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Islamic World News ( 26 Jun 2019, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Apple Offers Muslim Brotherhood ‘Radicalisation App’

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 Jun 2019

Yusuf al-Qaradawi is regarded as the unofficial chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood


 Apple Offers Muslim Brotherhood ‘Radicalisation App’

 Lebanese Town Bans Muslims from Buying, Renting Property

 How a Fringe Muslim Cleric from Australia Became a Hero to America’s Far Right

 Kushner Urges Palestinians to Take the “Opportunity of the Century”

 Lives At Risk If World Cannot Agree Definition on Terrorism, Says Expert

 Iran Attempted Attack in Paris, Half a Ton of Explosives Found - Report

 Houthis Recruit 50,000 Yemen Child Soldiers in 3 Months, Minister Says

 Hindus Donate Land for Graveyard to Muslims in Ayodhya

 Lal Masjid’s Khateeb Removed, Maulana Aziz’s Entry Banned For Three Months


Arab World

 Apple Offers Muslim Brotherhood ‘Radicalisation App’

 Lebanese Town Bans Muslims from Buying, Renting Property

 Archbishop of Kirkuk: ISIS Orphans, an Emergency That Weighs On the Future Of Iraq

 Arab Coalition: Saudi Special Forces capture emir of ISIS in Yemen

 Khalid bin Salman: Capture of ISIS leader shows commitment to eradicate terror

 Saudi cabinet says Houthis targeting civilians a violation of international law

 Iraqi Special Forces kill 14 IS militants in country's north

 Egypt says militants kill six policemen in north Sinai

 President Salih: US won’t be allowed to use Iraqi soil to attack Iran

 Five things to know about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi


North America

 How a Fringe Muslim Cleric from Australia Became a Hero to America’s Far Right

 Kushner Urges Palestinians to Take the “Opportunity of the Century”

 Trump's China tariffs to increase cost of Bible, upsets religious groups

 Don’t underestimate the political power of Canada’s Muslim community

 Trump signs executive order delivering 'hard-hitting' sanctions against Iran

 New Pentagon chief hopes to win NATO allies’ support on Iran

 Bolton: US waiting for Iran at negotiating table despite new sanctions

 US lawmakers unveil bill to block funds for war on Iran



 Lives At Risk If World Cannot Agree Definition on Terrorism, Says Expert

 Counter-Extremism Strategy in London Not Good Enough, Says Mayor

 Nato calls on Russia to destroy new missile and warns of response

 UK stealth fighter jets join fight against Islamic State

 France’s Macron speaks to Iran’s Rouhani to try to ease Mideast tension

 UK FM Hunt says cannot envisage joining US-led war with Iran

 Iran shot down US spy drone inside its airspace: Putin aide



 Iran Attempted Attack in Paris, Half a Ton of Explosives Found - Report

 Houthis Recruit 50,000 Yemen Child Soldiers in 3 Months, Minister Says

 Countries pledge $110 million for UN Palestinian agency

 Iran ‘never seeks war’ with US, Rouhani tells French President Macron

 Iran foreign minister accuses US’ Bolton of plotting for war

 Yemeni forces target Saudi airports in Jizan, Asir with combat drones

 Why the Palestinian economy urgently needs a stimulus



 Hindus Donate Land for Graveyard to Muslims in Ayodhya

 Audio Bares Rift in Valley Terror: Al-Qaeda Cell Lashes Out At Pakistan

 India, Pak Clash over Nizam of Hyderabad Funds in UK

 733 terrorists killed in Jammu & Kashmir in last 3 years: MoS Home Reddy

 2014 Burdwan blast accused, Habibur Rahman, arrested by NIA in Bengaluru

 Ayodhya in focus at Waqf Board meet

 1 militant killed in J-K’s Pulwama, body recovered

 Indian police arrest 11 for torturing Muslim man to death



 Lal Masjid’s Khateeb Removed, Maulana Aziz’s Entry Banned For Three Months

 P.M. Imran Khan’s Serious Efforts for Islamic Ummah’s Unity

 Despite reservations about jury, Pakistan to implement FATF reforms: envoy

 Pakistan proposes 6-point plan at UN to counter racism, religious hatred

 Pakistan, EU sign new strategic engagement plan

 Gen Bajwa, British NSA discuss Afghan peace

 Pak army chief trolled for watching cricket at Lord’s

 Pakistan minister for probe into previous governments' failure in securing FATF membership

 No country has sought NRO for Nawaz: Prime Minister Imran

 PML-N to launch anti-govt drive soon: Baloch

 'Strict action' to be taken against PTI leader who 'beat up' journalist: PM's assistant

 US-Iran tensions a threat to regional peace, says Qureshi

 Pakistan envoy lauds recent round of US, Taliban talks


South Asia

 U.S., Taliban Aim to Firm up Date for Foreign Force Exit from Afghanistan

 Sri Lanka Police Overturn Local Council Ban On Muslims

 Public uprising militiaman defects to Taliban after killing his 6 comrades

 Bangladesh police kill three suspected Rohingya traffickers; rescue 15 refugees

 ‘US hoping for Afghan peace pact before Sept 1’

 Bangladeshi minorities call on govt to deliver election promises

 Bangladesh police kill three suspected Rohingya traffickers; rescue 15 refugees

 Afghan Special Forces kill Taliban attack coordinator in Bagram

 Afghan Air Force conducted 20 airstrikes in past 24 hours: MoD

 Karzai, Ghani and Abdullah met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Kabul


Southeast Asia

 Malaysian Police Chief Warns Of Suicide Attacks If ISIS Members Are Back

 Malaysia Calls for 'Justice' And Citizenship For Rohingya Muslims

 Indonesia's silence on Uighur debate 'complicated': IPAC report



 Sudan Protesters Dispute Generals’ Take on Transition Plans

 Libya’s Liberal Alliance Proposes Ceasefire In Tripoli

 Al-Shabaab waning as Kenya takes fight to their home bases

 15 killed in two ‘terrorist’ attacks on Burkina villages

 Nigeria: Depressed Soldiers Drugged in Fight against Boko Haram

 Troops rescue 95 Boko Haram captives, recover four terrorist flags

 Daesh terror cell dismantled in Morroco

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Apple offers Muslim Brotherhood ‘radicalisation app’

June 25 2019

Apple’s App Store is hosting an app linked to the Muslim Brotherhood despite experts’ concerns that it is a tool for radicalisation.

The Euro Fatwa app was created by the European Council for Fatwa and Research, an organisation founded by Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is regarded as the unofficial chief ideologue of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Qaradawi, 92, has been banned from Britain, France and the US due to his extremist views, which have included expressing support for suicide bombers in Israel and regarding the Holocaust as “divine punishment” on the Jews.

The deliberations of his Dublin-based European council have included a reference to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a notorious antisemitic forgery.

According to The Media Line, a news agency, the introduction to the…



Lebanese town bans Muslims from buying, renting property

June 26, 2019

BEIRUT: The case of Hadat, a once-Christian Lebanese town that bars Muslims from buying or renting property, has sparked a national outcry.

It reflects the country’s rapidly changing demographic make-up against the backdrop of deep-rooted sectarian divisions that once erupted into a 15-year civil war that left more than 100,000 people dead.

Lebanese Christian communities feel under siege as Muslims leave overcrowded areas for once predominantly Christian neighborhoods.

Mohammed Awwad and his fiancee, both Muslims, recently found an affordable apartment for rent online in Hadat, southeast of Beirut, but were stunned when they found that Muslims are not allowed to settle in the town.

Hadat is the only area where such a ban is publicly announced. Elsewhere, it’s imposed in more discreet ways.



How a Fringe Muslim Cleric From Australia Became a Hero to America’s Far Right

Robert Mackey

June 26 2019

FOR ISLAMOPHOBES, Mohamad Tawhidi is something very close to a godsend. A Shia Muslim cleric, raised in Australia and educated in Iran, Tawhidi presents himself as an Islamic reformer who embraces and amplifies far-right warnings that immigration by his fellow Muslims poses an existential threat to Western civilization.

“He’s a hero,” the former New York Assembly Member Dov Hikind said last month, introducing Tawhidi to an audience of Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn. “He is a super-special individual that God has introduced to this world.”

Tawhidi immediately repaid the favor by suggesting that Muslims, at least those from the majority Sunni sect, are mistaken to consider Jerusalem a sacred site. “Muslims who are fighting for Palestine are absolutely confused,” he said. “Palestine is Jewish land.” Tawhidi went on to call political Islam “a disease,” and accused America’s first two Muslim women in Congress, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, of “bringing a Hamas agenda to the U.S. Congress.”

Hikind, who is leading a campaign to force Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee over her comments about Israel, was delighted by Tawhidi’s baseless claim that the two Democrats are secret agents of the Palestinian Islamist movement.

The remarks in Brooklyn echoed Tawhidi’s near-obsessive criticism of the two Muslim congresswomen on social media, a stance that has earned him a loyal following among their detractors in the United States.

The cleric’s American fans apparently include Republican Rep. Dan Crenshaw, who seized on one of Tawhidi’s tweets in April as evidence that Omar was insufficiently critical of the terrorists who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001.

The virulently anti-Muslim founder of the English Defence League, Tommy Robinson, misinformed fans of his YouTube channel last year that “Imam Tawhidi is one of the world’s leading imams and a highly regarded scholar of the Koran and Islamic history.” Neither claim has any basis in reality, but Robinson prefaced an interview with Tawhidi by adding that the man who gave himself the nickname “Imam of Peace” is “known for his outspoken and honest discussion of the culture and ideological problems within the religion.”

Tawhidi’s skyrocketing status in far-right circles in America and Britain comes two years after he was largely discredited in Australia. As a deep dive into his background by Bronwyn Adcock, a reporter for the Australian public broadcaster ABC, revealed, Tawhidi is a fringe cleric with no academic credentials, no mosque, and less than a handful of followers in the real world. His public profile stems not from any work within his faith community, but from his willingness to play a concerned Muslim reformer on TV, on social media, and in a series of high-profile interviews with far-right YouTube personalities.

Even a cursory review of his Twitter feed undercuts the idea that he is focused on the reform of Islam or the pursuit of peace, since it is devoted mainly to reinforcing the prejudices of right-wing trolls and nativist politicians, echoing their racist, sexist, and xenophobic rhetoric. To take a recent example, Tawhidi mockingly shared a sixth grade yearbook photo from Minnesota, in which a white boy is surrounded by the children of black Muslim immigrants, which had surfaced on a racist 4chan board.

He has also recently shared video of himself telling conservative activist Candace Owens that the Muslim mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, is corrupted by a “Pakistani mentality,” mocked the Muslim feminist Linda Sarsour for an act of civil disobedience against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, saluted the anti-Muslim blogger Robert Spencer, called for the restoration of the monarchy in Iran, and penned an ode to Fox News host Jeanine Pirro.

When Tawhidi was first cited as an authority on Islam by Australian tabloids, he was dismissed by fellow Muslims in Australia and then the United States as something of a joke — and a symptom of how easily duped the right-wing media can be. Imraan Siddiqi, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Arizona, even compared him to a creation of the satirist Sacha Baron Cohen.

But the sectarian cast of Tawhidi’s harsh criticism of Sunni Muslim beliefs and practices has increasingly alarmed not just Sunnis, but also members of Tawhidi’s Shia sect. Again and again in interviews with non-Muslims, he has made incendiary comments about articles of faith to the majority Sunni sect, calling for one of their most holy books to be banned, and insulting a revered wife of the Prophet Muhammad.

Tawhidi’s rock-star status in far-right social media circles matters because it has recently been weaponized by mainstream politicians. In Australia, Tawhidi has been used as a character witness by the anti-immigrant politician Pauline Hanson. In India, he won applause at a gathering of Hindu nationalists by deriding Pakistani Muslims and asserting that “Kashmir is Hindu land.” He has recently been photographed with figures like Doug Ford, the far-right premier of Ontario; Nikki Haley, the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; and Reza Pahlavi, son of the last shah of Iran.

And in April, his tweet falsely accusing Omar of downplaying the 9/11 attacks set off a firestorm when Crenshaw, the U.S. representative, somehow came across it.

Tawhidi’s tweet, which went viral after Crenshaw shared it, included edited video from the Daily Caller of Omar referring to the attacks during a CAIR fundraiser. Omar’s remarks had previously garnered little attention, but the cleric’s inaccurate caption for the video — “Omar mentions 9/11 and does not consider it a terrorist attack” — propelled it into the mainstream news media.

Tawhidi’s false claim about what Omar said, along with another lie — that she sought “to justify the establishment of a terrorist organization (CAIR) on US soil” — then formed the basis for a segment broadcast into the White House during the Wednesday morning edition of the president’s daily briefing, aka “Fox and Friends.”

In fact, CAIR is a civil rights group for American Muslims and does not support terrorism, but Tawhidi frequently cites, uncritically, the fact that the repressive monarchy that rules the United Arab Emirates added the American group — and Muslim civil rights groups in seven European countries — to a list of terrorist organizations in 2014. Those designations, which were backed by no evidence and were not adopted by the U.S., were widely seen as the monarchy’s attempt to discredit civil society groups that were perceived as threats to its rule by associating them with genuine extremists. The UAE list included community groups that the monarchy previously funded — as well as the Serbian student group that organized the peaceful protests that forced Slobodan Milosevic from power — but excluded the armed Islamist groups Hamas and Hezbollah, which have carried out terror attacks.

TAWHIDI’S PUBLIC CAREER began, as he recently told “intellectual dark web” star Dave Rubin, when he “was discovered” by a producer for a tabloid news show on Australia’s Channel 7. “I got a call from Channel 7,” Tawhidi told Rubin, “and apparently they Googled ‘imam,’ ‘Adelaide,’ ‘Muslim,’ just to get a comment.”

“So they came in wanting a three-minute comment on a certain issue and I gave them a 30-minute talk about the Muslim community,” Tawhidi continued, “and the director gets in touch with me and [said], ‘We can do a lot with what you’re saying.'”

That interview with Tawhidi was the centerpiece of an alarmist episode of the Channel 7 tabloid news show “Today Tonight,” which claimed that Muslim immigrants were secretly plotting to establish “a caliphate” in Australia.

“Sadly my religion, in the current situation, is an absolute mess,” Tawhidi told Channel 7. “I come from a lineage of Islamic leadership. When I am worried about what’s happening and what I see from my community and religion, trust me that there is something going on.”

Later in the program, Tawhidi claimed that “extreme Muslims” planned to set up a state within a state and impose sharia. “I believe that there needs to be a new government body that investigates everything regarding the Muslim religion in this country, starting off with the leaders of the communities,” Tawhidi said.

Following that appearance, reporters derailed Tawhidi’s media career in Australia; they found that he was the leader only of an Islamic association in Adelaide that he had set up himself and had lied about his academic credentials and training in Qom, the center of Shia Muslim study in Iran.

In the wake of those revelations, Tawhidi was subjected to a dose of public mockery on Australian television that temporarily halted his momentum in the mainstream press — although he has remained a go-to source for tabloid newspapers there.

Despite that debunking in Australia’s mainstream media, Tawhidi’s appeal to far-right Islamophobes soon spread through far-right social media to the United States. Tawhidi “just started showing up on my Twitter timeline two years ago, saying things that are counterintuitive to any Muslim that’s out there,” Siddiqi of CAIR told The Intercept.

Even though “he’s so cartoonish,” Siddiqi notes, “he’s getting called on to these mainstream talk shows, like Dave Rubin.” Through his appearances on popular talk shows of the “intellectual dark web,” Siddiqi observed, Tawhidi could now be “influencing a completely different audience than let’s say, a Fox News.”

“That really is sort of the unknown frontier of Islamophobia: Who is being indoctrinated by this sort of misinformation?” Siddiqi asked. “He’s being brought from the far right to these folks as some sort of credible source, a peaceful imam who denounces terrorism, but he’s coming from a completely absurd position.”

Cartoonish or not, Siddiqi is chilled by the thought that Tawhidi is reaching millions of followers of the popular Islamophobe video bloggers and activists who interview and promote him.

In just the past year, Tawhidi has had friendly interviews with Candace Owens, who was the communications director of Turning Point USA until she offered an off-the-cuff defense of Adolf Hitler’s nationalism; Jack Posobiec, an anchor at the Trump-endorsed One America News who helped promote the PizzaGate hoax; Brittany Pettibone, anti-Islam vlogger, white supremacist, and Pizzagate truther; Dave Rubin, YouTube talk-show host and “intellectual dark web” star; James Delingpole, Breitbart London’s editor; Pauline Hanson, an Australian nativist politician who said in 2016 that Australia was “in danger of being swamped by Muslims” and needed to ban all immigration by followers of that “so-called religion”; and Tommy Robinson, who got Tawhidi to trash the Prophet Muhammad’s wife Aisha and agree with him that Muslims immigrants to Britain who have many children are engaged in “population jihad.”

Some Muslims suspect that Tawhidi is at heart a sectarian agitator, trying to weaponize the hatred of Islamophobes as a way of attacking adherents of Islam’s majority Sunni Muslim sect. But according to Siddiqi, the Australian’s bizarre social media presence has baffled and appalled American Muslims of all sects. Shias and Sunnis “are in full agreement” on at least one thing, Siddiqi told me: “that this guy is just completely unhinged and not a part of any sort of theological tradition.”

However, a close reading of Tawhidi’s most incendiary pronouncements on Islam does lend credence to the theory that his mission might be less about reforming Islam than promoting the Shia sect by tarnishing the image of the majority Sunni sect.

There is evidence for this theory in a bizarre section of Tawhidi’s interview with Owens. When she asked him about the chances of reforming Islam, Tawhidi stated flatly that Islam could “never, ever, ever be reformed.” As evidence, he cited not any difficulties he or other supposed moderates have encountered recently, but the fact that Sunnis had brutally murdered the man he identified as the original reformer, the Shia saint Imam Hussein. Tawhidi gave a blood-curdling account of the death of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad who was killed in battle near Karbala, Iraq, in the year 680 — a defining event in the schism of early Islam that divided Muslims into Shias and Sunnis.

Karbala also happens to be where Tawhidi got his first media training. In 2014, he hosted programs on Imam Hussein TV, a satellite network controlled by followers of the Grand Ayatollah Sayid Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi, the Shia Muslim cleric in Iran who ordained Tawhidi. He also presented an English-language YouTube series, “Islamic Answers,” which aimed to give guidance to young Muslims in the West about how to navigate modern life in accordance with the teachings of Shia Islam.

Last year, an Iranian news agency reportedly accused the network of television channels associated with the Shirazi movement of promoting sectarian conflict and working to “ignite the fire of war between Sunni and Shia.”

A brief video message broadcast recently on Shirazi’s official television channel even suggested that Islamophobia in the West was entirely the fault of Sunni terrorists, and the problem could only be solved when all Muslims embraced the Shia interpretation of Islam.

“Today, we as Muslims should change the non-Muslim world’s negative view of Islam,” the broadcast quoted Shirazi as saying. “And this is possible only through the introduction of the genuine traditions of the Holy Prophet of Islam and his pure family,” a clear reference to the martyrs revered by Shias, Imam Hussein and his father Imam Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad.

The notion that Tawhidi might still be working with or for Shirazi stems from the fact that he opened a short-lived Islamic association and Shia Muslim seminary in Adelaide in 2016 with the backing of the ayatollah.

At the time, the ayatollah’s Facebook and Twitter feeds boasted that the school, which appeared to have less than two dozen students, would be run by Tawhidi “based on the instructions laid out by his Eminence, the Respected Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Sadiq Hussaini Shirazi.”

Shirazi’s office also stated the Islamic Association of South Australia, set up by Tawhidi at the same time, would “primarily focus on the instructions of his eminence, the Grand Ayatollah Sayyid Sadiq Shirazi.”

Australian Muslims who were appalled by Tawhidi’s inflammatory comments in his initial interview with Channel 7 noticed that a photograph of Shirazi could be seen in the background of the cleric’s office.

Shirazi’s support for Tawhidi’s projects in Australia reinforced suspicions among Australian Sunni Muslims that he might still be serving his spiritual leader by joining forces with far-right figures in the West to smear them as dangerous extremists.

Tawhidi’s fans in the West appear unconcerned or unaware that his project might be sectarian in nature, but if it is, the cleric’s relationship to the Islamophobes who promote him might have something of a hall of mirrors about it. While Tawhidi’s far-right interlocutors think they are using him to smear Muslims, he could be using them to inflame sectarian tensions between the two rival branches of Islam.



Kushner urges Palestinians to take the “Opportunity of the Century”



June 25, 2019

MANAMA: White House adviser Jared Kushner on Tuesday urged the Palestinians to take the “Opportunity of the Century” to have $50 billion pumped into the stagnant economy of the West Bank and Gaza.

“My direct message to the Palestinian people is that despite what those who have let you down in the past say, President Trump and America have not given up on you,” said Kushner, the US president’s son-in-law, opening the “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain.

Kusher repeated an earlier caveat that his economic plan would not go into operation until there was a political solution to the Palestinian issue. “To be clear, economic growth and prosperity for the Palestinian people are not possible without an enduring and fair political solution to the conflict — one that guarantees Israel’s security and respects the dignity of the Palestinian people,” he said.

However, he surprised his audience of global business leaders, economists and politicians by saying the Palestinians must accept the economic plan before a political solution could be reached.

“Agreeing on an economic pathway forward is a necessary condition to resolving the previously unsolvable political issues,” Kushner said.

He dismissed mockery of the US peace plan as the “Deal of the Century,” and offered an alternative. “This effort is better referred to as the Opportunity of the Century, if the leadership has the courage to pursue it,” he said.

“We see tremendous potential. What we have developed is the most comprehensive economic plan ever created specifically for the Palestinians, and the broader Middle East. We can turn this region from a victim of past conflicts into a model for commerce and advancement throughout the world.”

Prominent figures taking part in the two-day Bahrain conference include International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde, World Bank president David Malpass and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Among the business leaders in Manama for the conference was Mohamed Alabbar, chairman of the UAE property and leisure group Emaar. He was optimistic. “If there is a one percent chance we do something good here, we should get together and try,” he said.

Saudi Arabia indicated support on Tuesday for “international efforts aimed at improving prosperity, investment and economic growth in the region.”

But Riyadh restated that any peace deal should be based on the Saudi-led Arab peace initiative that has been the Arab consensus since 2002. It calls for a Palestinian state in territory not occupied by Israel before 1967, with a capital in East Jerusalem and refugees’ right of return.

21:54 Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with the US delegation participating in the workshop at Al-Qudaibiya Palace.

The delegation included senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Bahrain state news agency BNA said.

King Hamad also received a letter from US President Donald Trump, BNA said.

21:10: Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa met with the US delegation participating in the workshop.

The delegation included senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the Bahrain state news agency BNA said.

King Hamad also received a letter from US President Donald Trump, BNA said.

21:00: The full details of the economic plan can be downloaded here.

Kushner briefly went through the main points and some of the figures, including the four overarching aims. They are doubling GDP, creating 1 million jobs, reducing unemployment and reducing poverty.

20:05: More from Kushner's speech earlier. When he moved on to outline the economic plan that was published Saturday, he addressed the absence of Palestinian business leaders at the Bahrain conference.

"A lot of the leading Palestinian business people who we speak to wanted to be here tonight. They were told by the (Palestinian) authority not to come and because they rely on them for their livelihood it’s not a free market where they can make those distinctions."

20:00: Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of the UAE’s Emaar Properties says the Palestinian cause is one close to the heart of all Arabs.

19:45: Some more details from Jared Kushner's speech. He painted a picture of what could be in Gaza and the West Bank:

"Imagine a new reality in the Middle East. Imagine a bustling commercial and tourist center in Gaza and the West Bank where international businesses come together and thrive. Imagine the West Bank as a blossoming economy, full of entrepreneurs, engineers, scientists and business leaders. Imagine people and goods flowing quickly and securely throughout the region as economics become more integrated and people more prosperous.

"This isn’t a stretch, this is actually the historical legacy of the Middle East, specifically of Gaza and the West Bank."

19:45: The first panel - The Time is Now: Building a Coalition for Middle East Prosperity - gets underway, hosted by Nik Gowing.

19:40: Kushner says Palestinian self-sufficiency is the key to helping them reach prosperity, and will be vital in helping create a better business environment climate in the Middle East as a whole...

19:30: Kushner is now summarizing what the "Opportunity of the Century" economic plan actually entails for the conference...

19:25: Kushner tells the conference that the US wants to see peace, security and prosperity for Palestinians, Israelis and all people around the world and that the US has not "given up" on the Palestinian people.

19:15: We are under way, and Jared Kushner is speaking...

18:45: We are still waiting for Jared Kushner's address, and we are being treated to some dramatic music and this holding screen on the live stream...stay tuned, we will have some action shortly...

18:20: Dignitaries for the conference are still arriving and registering and enjoying a welcome reception, so let’s take a look at what we can expect on tonight and tomorrow’s agenda…

- Donald Trump senior advisor Jared Kushner will deliver the opening remarks, with a panel discussion on what the US administration’s plans for “Middle East prosperity” will entail. The panel will be moderated by Nik Gowing, a UK-based professor, author & broadcaster and will include Mohamed Alabbar, founder and chairman of the UAE’s Emaar Properties as well as Stephen Schwarzman, chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone.

- Everyone will then enjoy an opening night dinner.

- Tomorrow, the highlights will be a panel entitled “Unleashing Economic Potential” — looking at how trade and job creation can help Gaza, the West Bank and the surrounding region — which will include Mohammed Al-Sheikh, Minister of State, member of Council of Ministers and member of Council of Economic and Development Affairs in Saudi Arabia.

- Kushner will hold a conversation with former UK prime minister Tony Blair, while just before lunch Arab News’ editor-in-chief Faisal Abbas moderates a panel on how to empower the Palestinian people to reach their full potential.



Lives at risk if world cannot agree definition on terrorism, says expert

Taylor Heyman

June 25, 2019

Academics and policy makers have called for global definitions of terrorism and extremism to better fight radicalisation online and in the real world.

Dr Krisztina Huszti-Orban, professor of law and research fellow at the Human Rights Centre of the University of Minnesota, argued that because terrorism and extremism cross state boundaries, global powers need to reach an agreement on what they are under international law.

“There is no internationally accepted definition,” she told an audience of researchers at the Terrorism and Social Media Conference in Swansea, UK

“This poses a very important problem, as the cornerstone of all counter-terrorism policies should be an adequate, internationally-recognised definition.”

Brookings Institution Fellow and extremism expert J M Berger said “lives are at risk” if international definitions of the terms are not agreed.

Also speaking at the conference, which brings policy makers and academics together to share the latest research and ideas on fighting violent extremism and terrorism, Mr Berger said terrorism and extremism must be separated from each other.

“I think in almost all cases with a few very rare exceptions the cause of terrorism is extremism,” he said. "So terrorism is a tactic. It is not a belief system.”

However, not all violent extremism is terrorism, and not all extremists are violent, Mr Berger said.

Governments the world over are failing to discuss a whole raft of harmful actions by lumping in extremism with terrorism as a definition, he explained.

“We are missing out on a lot of things that happened as a result of extremism. For instance, hate crime, discriminatory policies, internment camps and concentration camps which we are seeing an unfortunate resurgence of.”

States are also committing acts against their own people and others based on demonising them as extremist, for example the actions of Myanmar against the Rohingya people, or China against the Uighur population.

“A reasonable definition of extremism would deem the people carrying out the atrocities as extremists,” not the persecuted population, said Mr Berger.

As some of these actions are undertaken by UN member states against their own people or people of other nations, an agreed definition of terrorism at the UN will be hard to come by, Dr Huszti-Orban said.

The UN currently has 19 international conventions and protocols on the prevention and suppression of terrorism, which provide basic legal tools to combat terrorism.

A draft convention to agree a definition of terrorism has been stuck at committee stage for a number of years, and is likely to stay there “until kingdom come”, says Dr Huszti-Orban, for two reasons.

“One of them is whether a state and state armed forces can be perpetrators of terrorist acts, and the other is whether terrorism can be permitted in response to the right of self-determination,” she said. “These are issues that are unlikely to be solved anytime soon.”

However, the academic and policy worlds are not in total agreement on the issue.

Lord Alexander Carlisle, former independent reviewer of the UK’s terrorism legislation for a decade in the early 2000’s, said attempting to define terrorism is a “futile exercise”.

He suggested modelling a definition on how anti-Semitism is treated, by providing a set of examples of actions or uses of language which are considered to be anti-Semitic. This, he said gives the flexibility needed to encompass such a wide-ranging phenomena.

“It is much better to produce a list of examples as is in the definition of anti-Semitism and just allow extremism and terrorism to be interpreted as they evolve rather than a prescribed definition,” he said on Tuesday.



Iran Attempted Attack In Paris, Half A Ton Of Explosives Found - Report

By Yasser Okbi/Maariv  

June 24, 2019

Half a ton of explosives was brought to Paris in a diplomatic suitcases in order to carry out a terror attack, before being foiled by French authorities, it was reported in the British media.

The British newspaper "Independent in Arabic" quoted an intelligence source as saying that in 2018 Iran had delivered half a ton of TATP explosives in diplomatic packages to a civilian plane that was supposed to be transferred to Paris to carry out an attack in the city.

According to the report, the plane arrived from Tehran to Geneva in June 2018, following an Iranian plan to carry out a terrorist attack during a meeting of the Iranian opposition. According to a report based on intelligence sources, the attack was supposed to be carried out by an Iranian intelligence official who worked at the Iranian embassy in Austria since 2014, but French intelligence thwarted the attack after the authorities arrested a Belgian couple of Iranian origin who had the explosives in their car on their way to Paris.

A Western intelligence source said the intelligence official visited Tehran on July 20, 2018, where he received TATP explosives. On June 22, he transferred explosives in a civilian plane from Tehran to Austria on flight OS872, when the material was delivered in a diplomatic suitcase aboard the Airbus A320. The plane had 240 passengers.

The source added that the transfer of the explosives into a civilian plane constitutes a clear and blatant blow to all international treaties related to security in international aviation, for if it enters into strong pockets of air, the plane would explode in the air. The source referred to the Russian plane that exploded shortly after taking off from the Sharm el-Sheikh airport in Egypt three years ago, and all 244 passengers aboard were killed by an explosive charge weighing half a kilogram of TNT.

According to the intelligence source, the material seized by the Belgian couple in Iran and its transfer to a terrorist attack on a civilian plane is a dangerous violation of international conventions. According to the source, Iran frequently uses civilian aircraft and civilian airlines to transport explosives, weapons and ballistic missiles, as well as funds to Hezbollah in Lebanon and elsewhere in the world.



Houthis recruit 50,000 Yemen child soldiers in 3 months, minister says

JUNE 20, 2019

A gun, a comic magazine about jihad and qat to chew – for many kids in Yemen, these are integral parts of their childhood. About 50,000 children have been recruited in the past three months by the Houthi rebels to fight in the country’s bloody civil war, with around 10% of them being girls, according to Yemen’s Information Minister Moammar Al-Eryani.

With the difficult economic situation in the country when salaries are mainly being paid only to those willing to fight, families have to find a way to survive.

“Most of the kids go with the consent of their family, some are kidnapped … some are brainwashed,” Al-Eryani said during a media roundtable this week in Washington, D.C.

At the same time, many children have been recruited to the rebel cause from orphanages, he claimed.

According to the United Nations, the situation on the ground in Yemen is getting more violent as the civil war continues into its fifth year.

The total number of children currently fighting for the rebels is unknown, according to Al-Eryani. He said the 50,000 figure was calculated based on “the information received from Sana’a,” but that its source should remain classified.

The Defense Post was unable to independently verify the figures.

Yemen’s children at war

“The conflict is getting worse, not better. Fighting this year has displaced more than 250,000 people,” Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock told the U.N. Security Council this week.

“The number of incidents killing or injuring children more than tripled between the last quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of this year.”

There are now more than 30 active front lines in Yemen, and fighting remains consistent. When clashes quieted down in the port city of Hodeidah after the Stockholm Agreement, fighters were redeployed to other areas, including Al Dhale’e, Hajjah and Taiz.

Bismarck Swangin, chief of communication and advocacy at the Yemen division of the U.N. Children’s Fund, told The Defense Post that from March 2015 to April 2019, the U.N. was able to verify recruitment of 3,321 children in Yemen – 3,264 boys and 57 girls.

“This is only what the U.N. was able to verify. The actual numbers are likely to be much, much higher,” Swangin said. “All parties to the conflict in Yemen are recruiting and using children in the war in different capacities.”

According to the 2017 Secretary-General Annual Report on Children and Armed Conflict released in May last year, the U.N. verified 842 cases of the recruitment and use of boys as young as 11 years old in the Yemen conflict. Among those reported cases, nearly two-thirds, or 534, were attributed to the Houthis, 142 cases to the Security Belt Forces, a paramilitary force based in Southern Yemen, and 105 to the Yemeni Armed Forces.

On Tuesday, Reuters reported that U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had blocked the inclusion of Saudi Arabia on an upcoming State Department list of countries that use child soldiers, despite findings that the Saudi-led coalition fighting the Houthis had enlisted Sudanese children to fight with militias in Yemen.

During the roundtable on Tuesday, Al-Eryani showed journalists what he said were photographs of children armed with guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers deployed at checkpoints and participating in military drills.

Houthis often give child fighters qat (also spelled khat) – a commonly-used plant that contains the stimulant alkaloid cathinone – to keep them awake at the frontlines, the minister said, while a kids’ magazine about jihad helps with indoctrination.

Al-Eryani also shared a picture of a letter that he said showed a Houthi commander’s request that a school give a student top marks for his exams because he was fighting, and said in some cases, families have been forced to celebrate their child’s martyrdom after receiving the news of their death.

U.N. investigators said in August that they had “received substantial information indicating that the Government of Yemen, the coalition-backed forces and the Houthi-Saleh forces have all conscripted or enlisted children into armed forces or groups and used them to participate actively in hostilities.”

“In most cases, the children were between 11 and 17 years old, but there have been consistent reports of the recruitment or use of children as young as eight years old,” the investigators added.

When asked about the report, Al-Eryani said Yemeni law and institutions criminalize and prohibit child recruitment.

“Always, the military police are doing some kind of inspection to make sure that there are no kids recruited,” he said. “The government will not and cannot allow child soldiers.”

Millions at risk in Yemen

According to a May 2018 special report by the Yemeni embassy in Washington, D.C., Yemen’s children have experienced an “intense and deep trauma” at the hands of the Houthis.

“A transformative change will be needed that is vital to imparting upon them a raison d’être for wanting to live in peace with the world, and not wanting to die in war or to commit crimes or terrorist acts against the United States or other nationalities in the future,” the report said.

“Consequently, and in order to remedy this warped mindset, an immense campaign must be instituted that is dedicated to instilling the rudimentary goodwill and acceptance of others (irrespective of religion, race and nationality) in educational curricula and for their existential development.”

Since the 2015 escalation of conflict in Yemen, nearly half a million children have left school, according to UNICEF. The total number of out-of-school minors reached 2 million in 2018.

“An entire generation of children in Yemen faces a bleak future because of limited or no access to education,” UNICEF Representative in Yemen Meritxell Relaño said last March. “Even those who remain in school are not getting the quality education they need.”

At the moment, about 24 million people in Yemen are in urgent need of protection and assistance, with about 80% of the population being stuck in a “deadly loop” of suffering, war and disease, according to Lowcock. The U.N. has called the situation in Yemen “the world’s worst humanitarian tragedy.”

Despite the dire conditions on the ground, full funding for humanitarian operations in the country is far from being reached.

“This year we require $4.2 billion and have so far received $1.15 billion, or 27%. In February, we heard very generous pledges in Geneva amounting to $2.6 billion,” Lowcock said.

“We thank all our donors for their generosity and understand that this money comes from voluntary contributions. But when pledges are made, they must be fulfilled. It has now been four months since the Geneva conference.”



Hindus donate land for graveyard to Muslims in Ayodhya

Jun 26, 2019

Ayodhya: In a gesture that could ease tension between Hindus and Muslim and, perhaps, pave the way for a solution to the Ram temple dispute, Hindus in Uttar Pradesh's Ayodhya district have donated land to Muslims for a burial ground. The land has been donated in Belarikhan village under the Gosaiganj Assembly constituency here.

The land had been a bone of contention between the two communities for years until now. Surya Kumar Jhinkan Maharaj, a local seer, and eight other shareholders, signed the registered deed for 1.25 bissas of land on June 20 to bury the dispute forever.

The other signatories to the land deed are Ram Prakash Bablu, Ram Singar Pandey, Ram Shabad, Jiya Ram, Subhash Chandra, Rita Devi, Vindhyachal and Awadhesh Pandey.

"The land belonged to Hindus as per records. It is by the side of a graveyard and some Muslims have buried their dead on the land. There were disputes and tension. But now, we have settled the matter," said Jhinkan Maharaj.

The deed is now in favour of the Qabristan Committee, Gosainganj and it will soon be entered in revenue records," said Vais Ansari, President of the Qabristan Committee. Sub-registrar SB Singh confirmed the transfer of land to the Muslims for the graveyard and said: "It's a gift from the Hindu community through a proper deed and stamp duty."

Khabbu Tiwari, the local BJP MLA who took the initiative, said: "The tradition of Hindu-Muslim brotherhood here is not new. This was a small token of love from Hindus to Muslims. I hope this amity will continue."



Lal Masjid’s khateeb removed, Maulana Aziz’s entry banned for three months

Munawer Azeem

June 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The capital administration has removed the khateeb of Lal Masjid and imposed a three-month ban on the entry of former khateeb Maulana Abdul Aziz in the mosque.

The decision was taken after a meeting between Deputy Commissioner Hamza Shafqaat and Ulema, including Mufti Raees Ayubi from Azad Kashmir and Qazi Nisar from Gilgit-Baltistan.

Former administration of Jamia Hafsa, including Maulana Abdul Aziz’s wife Umme Hassam, along with 80 students came to Lal Masjid after a plot allotted to the seminary was cancelled.

They started living in eight rooms on the premises of the mosque adjacent to the weekly bazaar and commenced educational activities, said officials. The DC requested the Ulema at the meeting held on Monday to play their role in getting the rooms vacated.

The Ulema played the role of mediators between the capital administration and the former administration of the mosque.

It was decided that teachers and students of Jamia Hafsa would continue their educational activities in Lal Masjid for three months. During this period, the capital administration would resolve the issue of the cancellation of a plot allotted to Jamia Hafsa so that they could be shifted there.

When contacted, officers of the capital administration neither confirmed nor denied the development saying so far no notification had been issued.

However, an official confirmed to Dawn that the khateeb of the mosque had been transferred on his own request.

After the development, the capital administration and police reopened the Masjid Road which had been closed a few days ago.

Ehtesham Ahmed, a close associate of the former Lal Masjid administration, told Dawn that Khateeb Amir Siddiqui had been suspended by the Auqaf department after Monday’s meeting. Ulema from Kashmir and Gilgit played their role in getting the issue resolved, he added.

“Now 10 Muftis from Lal Masjid’s Darul Ifta will be leading prayers till the appointment of a new khateeb after three months,” he said.

During the meeting, he added, it was also agreed that Maulana Aziz would not enter the mosque for three months.

The issue related to the cancellation of the plot allotted to Jamia Hafsa was also discussed, Mr Ahmed said. It was decided that the students and teachers of the madressah would continue their educational activities in Lal Masjid but no more students would be enrolled there.

The capital administration also agreed that it would make efforts to get a plot arranged from the civic agency for the students.

Maulana Aziz remained khateeb of Lal Masjid from 1998 to 2004. He was arrested during the Lal Masjid operation in 2007.

Later, Maulana Abdul Ghaffar was appointed as the khateeb and Amir Siddiqui the naib khateeb on temporary basis.

In 2009, Maulana Ghaffar left the mosque after the release of Maulana Aziz and the latter started leading prayers in Lal Masjid till 2014 when a ban was imposed on him.

Amir Siddiqui then led prayers and three months ago was appointed the mosque’s khateeb.



Arab World


Archbishop of Kirkuk: ISIS orphans, an emergency that weighs on the future of Iraq


Kirkuk (AsiaNews) - Daesh orphans "are a major emergency" calling for a "global, not just local" response from the Baghdad government that is likely to appear "insufficient," warns the Archbishop of Kirkuk Msgr. Yousif Thoma Mirkis who recently attended a UNICEF seminar on children and young people born or raised under the "Caliphate" of the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) in Syria and Iraq.

This is a question of primary importance that must be addressed "economically" by the international community and requires "other responses, such as education and schooling".

Activists and humanitarian NGOs speak of more than 1500 minors "trapped" within the Iraqi judicial system, because they are victims of brainwashing and today imbued with jihadist ideology. The youngest are held in prison along with their mothers; in recent months at least seven would have died due to poor detention conditions.

Hundreds are on trial for crimes of various kinds, from illegal immigration to having fought alongside ISIS militants. Official sources speak of 185 children and young people between the ages of nine and 18 already sentenced to a few months up to a maximum of 15 years and locked up in the juvenile prison in Baghdad. Minors affiliated to ISIS are treated without regard, tortured or persecuted by jailers and prisoners, without knowing their real degree of involvement in the group.

Still others by the thousands, although not incarcerated, live in precarious conditions begging in the streets of Mosul in search of the minimum money for a meal or by selling makeshift objects along the roadsides. With the risk, certainly not remote, of being exploited by the underworld or ending up in the local gangs that exploit them for money. According to the Iraqi sociologist Fatima Khalaf, these street children "are not immune to [...] exploitation" and "if they are abandoned, they could become criminals", for which the compulsory education is even more urgent.

As recently emphasized by the auxiliary of Baghdad, Msgr. Shemon Warduni is necessary "to educate [...] especially children" who represent the future of the country. "It is an open and dangerous question - the archbishop of Kirkuk confirms to AsiaNews - 35,000 people live in a camp near Kobane, the vast majority orphaned with their father killed and their mother, who is still wearing the niqab (the full veil) ”. The truth, the prelate adds, is that "these people are still tied to the time of Daesh [Arabic acronym for Isis] and even the government is afraid to have anything to do with them".

In order to understand the extent of the problem, Msgr. Yousif points to the fact that up to eight million people lived under the "Caliphate" in Syria and Iraq and many, like the origins of Islam, had three, four, even 10 wives. According to some sources, three million people were born in this area between the two countries and under the jihadist yoke and "very many children and young people have been brainwashed" by the men of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

To date, neither the government, nor the humanitarian institutions and NGOs "although starting from different points of view" have succeeded in "providing an answer" to the emergency. The executive "looks at the issue from a political point of view", applying an anti-terrorism norm which is "very harsh and foresees up to the death penalty. This norm has caused many more widows and orphans. The government does not take care of them and asks the humanitarian NGOs to take responsibility for them".

In this rebound of responsibility, from which the international community cannot be considered exempt, the question remains unresolved. "Many of these children - explains the prelate - were born from fighters from France, Germany, Belgium or Great Britain and belong to these countries. Their governments must take responsibility for them, helping Iraq and Syria. This is a global problem, hence the need for everyone to work together on an economic level, but above all on a cultural level ".

The Iraqi Church, at the instigation of the Chaldean patriarch and bishops, sought to help these children by giving them "bread, water, milk and other basic necessities. I myself - the archbishop continues - asked the faithful to help some Daesh families locked up in a refugee camp near Kirkuk. However, our resources are limited and it is very difficult to get in touch with these children. The fact remains that we cannot abandon them, because they could become the jihadists of tomorrow and it is the responsibility of the government and the international community to take care of them ”.

On the military level, the prelate concludes, perhaps Daesh "is defeated, but the mentality remains. This is the tip of the iceberg, to which economic, political and social problems are added ".,-an-emergency-that-weighs-on-the-future-of-Iraq-47372.html



Arab Coalition: Saudi Special Forces capture emir of ISIS in Yemen

25 June 2019

The Arab Coalition said that Saudi Special Forces have captured Abu Osama al-Muhajir, the emir of ISIS in Yemen.

A statement on the Saudi Press Agency said al- Muhajir, as well as other members of the extremist group, were captured on June 3.

Weapons, ammunition, and telecommunication devices were also seized during the operation.

Col. Turki al-Maliki, the official spokesman of the Arab Coalition, said the joint operation took place on June 3 at 9:20 am local time.

A house kept under close surveillance proved the presence of the terror group’s leader, and other elements, along with three women and three children,” al-Maliki said.

By fully identifying and understanding their daily routines in the area through monitoring and surveillance, the operation was successful in capturing the terrorists, and ensuring the safety of the women and children inside the house,” he added.

Full report at:



Khalid bin Salman: Capture of ISIS leader shows commitment to eradicate terror

25 June 2019

The capture of ISIS’ leader, Abu Osama al-Muhajir, in Yemen is just the latest example of our commitment to eradicating the scourge of terrorism, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Defense Minister Prince Khalid bin Salman said in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Saudi Arabia continues to play a leading role in the international community’s effort to combat terrorism & counter extremism,” he said.

The Arab Coalition earlier announced that Saudi Special Forces have captured Abu Osama al-Muhajir, the emir of ISIS in Yemen. A statement on the Saudi Press Agency said al-Muhajir, as well as other members of the extremist group, were captured on June 3.

Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان



The capture of ISIS’ leader in Yemen is just the latest example of our commitment to eradicating the scourge of terrorism. Saudi Arabia continues to play a leading role in the international community’s effort to combat terrorism & counter extremism.

Khalid bin Salman خالد بن سلمان


The Kingdom’s military operations in Yemen are aimed at restoring the legitimate government of Yemen and preventing terrorist groups like the Houthis, Al Qaeda and ISIS from using the country to destabilize the region and to the threaten the global economy.


11:45 PM - Jun 25, 2019

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Prince Khalid bin Salman said that Saudi Arabia’s military operations in Yemen are aimed at restoring the legitimate government of Yemen and preventing terrorist groups from using the country to destabilize the region and to threaten the global economy.

Full report at:



Saudi cabinet says Houthis targeting civilians a violation of international law

25 June 2019

The Iran-backed Houthi militia is violating international humanitarian law by firing ballistic missiles and drones to target civilians in the Kingdom, Saudi Arabia’s Council of Ministers said in a meeting on Tuesday afternoon in Jeddah.

According to Saudi Press Agency (SPA), the Cabinet discussed the escalating tension in the region, the threat posed by Iran’s destabilizing activities in Yemen and in the region as a whole, and the Houthi militia attacks on the Kingdom.

The council said the recent attacks on Saudi Arabia by Houthi militia present a real threat to regional and international security, adding that they have the legitimate right to lead coalition forces to support the legitimacy in Yemen and to take necessary measures to deal with these hostilities.

Full report at:



Iraqi special forces kill 14 IS militants in country's north

Jun 24, 2019

Iraqi special forces say they have conducted an operation near the northern city of Kirkuk in which they killed 14 members of the Islamic State group.

A statement from Iraqi Counterterrorism Forces on Monday says that during the operation, Iraqi forces received support from warplanes of the U.S.-led coalition

The statement says the operation, just south of Kirkuk, lasted for two days and included Iraqi special forces rappelling from helicopters.

Full report at:



Egypt says militants kill six policemen in north Sinai

26 June 2019

Militants attacked three police checkpoints in the restive northern Sinai Peninsula late Tuesday, killing at least six policemen and wounding eight other officers, security officials said.

The officials said at least four militants were killed, including a suicide bomber who set off his explosives at one of the checkpoints attacked in the coastal city of al-Arish late Tuesday. The officials agreed to provide the details only if not quoted by name because they were not authorized to brief the media.

No group claimed responsibility for the attacks, although they bore the hallmarks of ISIS.

Full report at:



President Salih: US won’t be allowed to use Iraqi soil to attack Iran

Jun 26, 2019

President Barham Salih says Iraq will under no circumstances allow the US military to use its bases in the Arab country for an act of aggression against neighboring Iran.

In an interview with the CNN in London on Tuesday, Salih stressed that American troops had been invited to Iraq solely for helping Baghdad fight the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group.

Asked about US President Donald Trump’s comments in February that he wanted to maintain a US military presence in Iraq to “watch” Iran, Salih said that Baghdad had already clarified its position.

At that time, he noted, the government of Iraq said in a statement that “the American troops, the coalition troops in Iraq are there again at the invitation of the Iraqi government for the specific exclusive mission of fighting ISIS (Daesh).”

“We do not want our territory to be a staging post for any hostile action against any of our neighbors, including Iran,” the Iraqi president said. “This is definitely not part of the agreement between the Iraqi government and the United States.”

Concerns about US-Iran tensions

Elsewhere in his interview, Salih said he was truly concerned about the recent escalation of tensions between the US and Iran and its ramifications for Iraq.

He also welcomed Trump’s recent reported decision to cancel a strike on Iran, emphasizing that the region needs fundamental solutions rather than a war.

“Obviously we are happy that a war has been averted. This part of the world has been going through cycles of conflict for so many years. We don’t need another war and there is no military solution to this problem. There are serious problems afflicting regional order in the Middle East,” he said.

“It is easy to start a war, but very very difficult to end the war,” he added.

The Iraqi president further questioned the efficacy of the US’s policy of sanctions against Iran and underlined the need for dialog.

“[There is ] no doubt ... that sanctions are hurting. The escalation is hurting the entire region not just Iran, to be fair,” he said.

Iraq, Iran separation not practical

Salih also referred to social, cultural and economic ties that have bound Iraq and Iran for centuries, saying it is actually impractical to separate the two nations.

Full report at:



Five things to know about the killing of Jamal Khashoggi

June 26, 2019

More than eight months since the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, his remains still haven't been found and individual responsibilities in the killing remain "clouded in secrecy and lack of due process", according to a long-awaited UN report.

Agnes Callamard, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, is presenting her findings on Khashoggi's murder at the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday, one week after her report on the matter was released.

The report concluded that Saudi Arabia was responsible for Khashoggi's murder and that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) should be investigated for his possible role in ordering the killing.

Here are five things you need to know about what has happened since Khashoggi disappeared in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2 and what is expected to happen next.

1. Khashoggi's murder

Khashoggi, a contributing columnist for the Washington Post, was killed and dismembered at the Saudi consulate on October 2 when he arrived to pick up documents he needed for his planned marriage.

The 59-year-old Saudi insider-turned-critic was strangled and his body cut into pieces by a team of 15 Saudis sent to Istanbul specifically to carry out that operation, according to Turkish officials.

Turkish media reports suggested his remains, which have never been found, were dissolved in acid.

Saudi Arabia's narrative of what happened changed over time.

They first maintained that Khashoggi left the consulate shortly after entering but, as Turkish authorities continued to leak evidence of high-level involvement, Riyadh eventually admitted its agents carried out the killing with a series of contradictory explanations.

On October 20, Saudi Arabia said Khashoggi was killed in their consulate during a fight that broke out between him and officials he was meeting with there. Eighteen Saudi nationals were arrested.

Saudi Arabia's foreign minister said Riyadh did not know where Khashoggi's remains were and blamed his death on "rogue" agents.

In November the CIA concluded that MBS ordered Khashoggi's assassination, according to US media reports. The finding contradicts Saudi government assertions that MBS wasn't involved. US officials expressed high confidence in the CIA assessment.

2. Ban on arms sales

Khashoggi's murder sparked debate worldwide about banning arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which emerged as the world's largest arms importer from 2014-2018, accounting for 12 percent of imports.

A number of European states had already stopped exporting weapons to Saudi Arabia - including Norway, Sweden, Austria, Greece, and the Belgian region of Wallonia - in response to the kingdom's involvement in an aerial bombing campaign in Yemen, which has become the world's worst humanitarian crisis.

Following Khashoggi's murder, Germany announced it had suspended supplying arms to Saudi Arabia. It extended its six-month arms embargo in April.

Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands followed suit with the suspension of future approvals of weapons, while Austria advocated for an EU-wide arms embargo.

France, Spain, Italy and Canada however, did not stop arms exports to Saudi Arabia.

On Tuesday the UK government said it will not grant any new licences for weapons exports to Saudi Arabia or its coalition partners, which include the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

The US has continued with its "business as usual with Saudi Arabia" approach. However, on Thursday the US Senate rejected - in a 53-45 vote - a plan by US President Donald Trump to bypass Congress and complete $8bn in arms sales to the kingdom.

3. No 'credible accountability'

In January eleven suspects were indicted for Khashoggi's murder in Saudi Arabia, which has insisted it will try the case and has refused the extradition of suspects to Turkey.

But the UN human rights office questioned the fairness of the Saudi trial, saying that it was "not sufficient" and called for a probe "with international involvement".

Last week, the long-awaited UN report revealed that the key suspect in Khashoggi's murder, Saud al-Qahtani, former adviser to MBS, still hasn't been charged.

The Saudi prosecutor in November 2018 identified Qahtani as one of the senior officials directly involved in the murder. Yet, according to insider reports, he continues to work with MBS.

Six other members of the hit squad have yet to appear before the court.

With the trial held behind closed doors and the identities of those charged still unreleased, the trial "will not deliver credible accountability," the UN rapporteur wrote.

4. Targeting dissidents

The UN, human rights organisations and analysts have pointed out that Khashoggi's murder is emblematic of a larger problem: the widespread Saudi crackdown on dissidents.

A year before Khashoggi was killed, MBS told an aide he would use a bullet on the journalist if he did not return to Saudi Arabia and end his criticism of the government, according to a New York Times report.

MBS was also quoted in US media reports describing Khashoggi as a "dangerous Islamist" in a phone call with US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and National Security Advisor John Bolton weeks after Khashoggi's disappearance.

The New York Times also reported in March that MBS had authorised a clandestine campaign to silence Saudi dissenters more than a year before Khashoggi's murder.

The campaign included surveillance, kidnapping, detention and torture of Saudis, the report said, citing US officials who read classified intelligence reports about the effort.

One of the victims of this group was a university lecturer who reported on the situation of women in Saudi Arabia. She was tortured last year, prompting her to attempt suicide.

5. UN report: "Saudi Arabia is responsible'

There is "credible evidence" linking MBS to Khashoggi's murder and the crown prince should be investigated, the UN rights expert concluded on June 19.

In her report, UN extrajudicial executions investigator Callamard said Khashoggi's death "constituted an extrajudicial killing for which the State of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is responsible".

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Callamard said: "There is little doubt in my mind that the killing was premeditated. It was planned."

Along with a minute-by-minute account of the journalist's grisly dismemberment based on audio recordings, the report found "credible evidence" that Saudi Arabia had destroyed proof by "thoroughly, even forensically" cleaning the crime scene.

Furthermore, "the Saudi investigation was not conducted in good faith, and it may amount to obstructing justice," the report stated.

What's next?

Hours after the release of Callamard's investigation, a spokesman for UN chief Antonio Guterres said he could only launch an inquiry with a mandate from "a competent intergovernmental body".

To pursue a criminal investigation that would oblige all countries to cooperate would require a UN Security Council resolution, he added.

But Callamard said she believed the UN chief "should be able to establish a follow-up criminal investigation without any trigger" by other UN bodies or member states.

Matthew Bryza, a former US diplomat and senior fellow at the US-based Atlantic Council think-tank, said Guterres was unlikely to initiate a criminal probe.

"That leaves the Security Council [to trigger an investigation], but I fear the US, under President Donald Trump, will block any action in the Security Council or in the UN General Assembly," Bryza said, underlining that a change in the US approach would be needed to launch an investigation.

The other relevant body is the UN Human Rights Council. But Saudi Arabia sits on the body and may be able to stop other countries from launching an inquiry.

Full report at:



North America


Trump's China tariffs to increase cost of Bible, upsets religious groups

Jun 26, 2019

WASHINGTON: The trade war that Donald Trump has initiated with China by imposing massive tariffs on the Chinese products has upset one of his core support bases, the influential church community, that fears the US President's import duties would increase the cost of the Bible in America.

The US and China have been locked in a bruising trade war since Trump imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items from China in March last year, a move that sparked fears of a global trade war.

Trump has already imposed 25 per cent tariffs on $250 billion in Chinese imports and China has retaliated with tariffs on US goods.

In response, China imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on billions of dollars worth of American imports.

The church community is up in arm against President Trump as his import duties on Chinese products will increase in the United States the cost of the holy Bible, which is significantly imported from China.

According to Congressman Josh Harder, more than half of the Bibles produced in the world originate from China.

"The recently proposed tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods, including printed materials, could have significant negative effects on our religious groups, churches, schools, ministries, and nonprofit organisations," Harder said.

"More than half of the Bibles printed in the world originate in China due to the unique paper and technologies required," he said.

Unless the Bibles are excluded from the tariffs, churches, religious schools and other organisations would be forced to pay more for the scripture, he said.

"I don't think the president planned to add an extra tax on Bibles, but that's the practical effect these tariffs would have, and that would make connecting with scripture more difficult for our Christian communities," Harder said.

"We need all of these trade wars to end, but in the meantime, we can't allow our congregations to become collateral damage," he added, after he wrote a letter to Trump.

The Congressman urged the President to exempt the Bibles printed in China from import duty.

In the letter dated June 25, the Congressman from California expressed his concern regarding tariffs on printed books which would amount to a "Bible tax".

If printed books, including the Bibles, are not removed from the list of products that could be impacted by tariffs, consumers and religious groups will be forced to pay higher prices for their Bibles, Harder said.

"While I do not believe this was an intended policy aim, the outcome would be harmful to our religious communities who rely on these sacred texts. I respectfully request that you reconsider the proposed tariffs for books and Bibles," the Congressman said.

Christian publishers and Bibles societies in the US depend on the capacity and expertise of printers in China to help supply the 20 million Bibles bought each year by Americans, said Stan Jantz, president of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association.

"A Bible tax would mean fewer Bibles at much higher prices would be available to people who depend on the Bible for their daily spiritual nourishment," Jantz said.

A 25 percent tariff imposed on Bibles would cause a hardship for many publishers, Jantz said.

"There will be significant damage to Bible accessibility if Bibles and books are not excluded from the tariffs. Some believe such a tariff would place a practical limitation on religious freedom. For sure we know that competitive options for printing Bibles outside of China are limited, especially if the current average price of a Bible is to be maintained," he said.

According to Mark Schoenwald, president of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, the Trump administration was unaware of the potential negative impact these proposed tariffs would have on the publishing industry generally, and that it never intended to impose a "Bible Tax" on consumers and religious organisations.

HarperCollins owns Thomas Nelson and Zondervan, two of the largest Bible producers in the United States.

"If printed books, including the Bibles are not removed from the fourth list of products from China to be subject to tariffs and the tariffs go into effect, publishers will reduce investment in their businesses, consumers and religious organisations will face higher prices, and churches, schools, ministries, and nonprofit organisations will have fewer resources to educate others and connect them with the Holy Bible," Schoenwald said in a statement.

One of the most critical issues facing the book publishing industry is the strong possibility that a tariff of up to 25 per cent will be placed on goods imported from China, including books and the Bibles.

As such Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) has expressed its concerns to the United States Trade Representative (USTR).

Books and the Bibles should be exempted from the Chinese tariff, he argued in a testimony before the USTR this week.

Schoenwald and ECPA board member Paul Hendrickson, general manager of Hendrickson Publishers also gave testimonies.

The ECPA said a large number of Bibles — well over 50 per cent - were printed in China.

While there are some domestic Bible options available, the US printers comparable to China on price and quality do not have the capacity to meet the current demand. The same can be said for four-colour books printed in China.



Don’t underestimate the political power of Canada’s Muslim community

By Seher Shafiq

June 25, 2019

With a star-studded guest list of 75 elected officials from all three levels of government, including Prime Minister Justin Trudeau himself, The Canadian-Muslim Vote (TCMV) welcomed 1,000 people this past weekend at what is likely the largest dinner party in Canadian politics. With all major federal parties speaking publicly for the first time since Parliament closed for the summer, the event had the tone of an unofficial campaign launch.

If you haven’t heard of it yet, the TCMV annual Eid Dinner has become a cornerstone event in Canadian politics. It’s a forum for the Canadian-Muslim community to show their elected officials they are politically engaged, and for politicians to show they care about our community.

Why does this dinner party matter? In the wake of Quebec’s Bill 21, it symbolizes how political power in the Canadian-Muslim community has grown in four short years.

Four years ago, a small group of people met in the basement of a mosque to discuss launching a new organization that would get out the vote in a traditionally under-engaged community. Those early meetings in 2015, the year of the last federal election, were the birthplace of TCMV, a non-partisan organization dedicated to promoting civic engagement in the community.

Four years later, as the next federal election is upon us, TCMV has now become a national best practice for tailored voter education and engagement campaigns. What happened in between? Thousands of hours of grassroots political organizing, door-knocking, empowering youth through political internships, and educating the community about political issues in between elections.

Four years ago Canadian Muslims were known to have lower-than-average voter turnout, and today the community is one of the most politically active demographics in Canada. TCMV is an example of voter engagement that works and we have the numbers to prove it.

The Canadian-Muslim community is now a politically empowered electorate, boasting voter turnout numbers above the national average, at 79 per cent in both the 2015 federal election and the 2018 Ontario provincial election, as compared to 67 per cent and 58 per cent respectively.

As a community of approximately 1.5 million across Canada, there are 23 ridings (many of which are swing ridings in the GTA) that have a Muslim population of 10 per cent or more. When looking at these swing ridings, 2019 election projections by the Laurier Institute for the Study of Public Opinion and Policy indicate that the outcome in many swing ridings could be decided by how the Canadian-Muslim community votes this fall.

The Canadian-Muslim community – now more politically active than ever before – could tangibly impact on the election outcome.

As Canadians head to the polls in October, I will be taking note of how political rhetoric about our community changes. While the 2015 election campaign centered on issues like the niqab ban and the infamous “barbaric cultural practices” hotline, 2019 will be a whole different ballgame and party leaders will need to be mindful of language, lest they lose votes from a key demographic.

Full report at:



Trump signs executive order delivering 'hard-hitting' sanctions against Iran

Jun 26, 2019

President Trump struck back Monday at Iran by issuing “hard-hitting” financial sanctions against Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and his associates.

“Today's action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks including shooting down a U.S. drone,” the president said in the Oval Office, calling Khamenei “responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime.”

Trump said the sanctions “will deny the supreme leader and the supreme leader's office and those closely affiliated with him and the office access to key financial resources and support.” Speaking to reporters in the White House briefing room Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the sanctions “lock up literally billions of dollars more of assets.”

“Along with that action today, we are also announcing specific actions targeting those responsible for recent activities,” Mnuchin said, adding that the president has instructed him to sanction Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif “later this week.”

The Treasury Department, in a news release, said “any foreign financial institution that knowingly facilitates a significant financial transaction for entities designated under this Executive Order could be cut off from the U.S. financial system.”

Amid the newly announced sanctions, Fox News has confirmed that the U.S. military also carried out a cyberattack against Iran last Thursday even as the president nixed plans for airstrikes in response to the downing of an American drone.

Sources said U.S. Cyber Command launched the cyberattack targeting the Iranian intelligence and radar installations used to down the U.S. Navy drone last week.

Fox News has learned Iran shut off some of its military radar sites around the time the U.S. was poised to launch retaliatory strikes. It's not clear if those radar sites were turned off by the cyberattack or if Iran shut them off deliberately in anticipation of this.

Yahoo! News first reported on the retaliatory cyber strike. It came as the White House and Pentagon were also considering military strikes, but Trump revealed last Friday that he called them off after learning up to 150 Iranians could be killed.

“I stopped it, not ... proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” he tweeted at the time.

The drone shoot-down was only the latest flare-up in the region tied to Iran.

Full report at:



New Pentagon chief hopes to win NATO allies’ support on Iran

25 June 2019

Acting US Defense Secretary Mark Esper said on Tuesday he hoped to recruit support from NATO allies this week for US efforts to deter conflict with Iran and “open the door to diplomacy,” as he made his first trip as Pentagon chief.

“Express with us the concern, outrage ... with regard to Iran’s activities in the region. That would be a good first step,” Esper said when asked during his flight to Brussels what he wanted to see from allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Full report at:



Bolton: US waiting for Iran at negotiating table despite new sanctions

Jun 25, 2019

US National Security Advisor John Bolton says the United States is still looking forward to talks with Iran, even after President Donald Trump authorized sanctions against senior Iranian officials.

On Monday, the White House introduced new sanctions that targeted Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and top Iranian military commanders. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was also going to be targeted by new sanctions, according to some reports.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the latest sanctions amounted to a "permanent closure of the path to diplomacy" with the Trump administration.

Bolton said during a visit to the Jerusalem al-Quds on Tuesday that the US remained open to negotiations.

"All that Iran needs to do is to walk through that open door," he said.

He claimed that Trump had more than once expressed readiness for direct negotiations but Iran had yet to respond.

"The president has held the door open to real negotiations," Bolton said in a statement on Tuesday. "In response, Iran's silence has been deafening.”

Despite Bolton’s claims, Iran has time and again made it clear that it would not sit down for talks with Washington as long as it continues its current hostile policies against the Islamic Republic.

Tensions have been running high between the two countries since Trump’s decision in May last year to abandon the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Tehran as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign aimed at forcing it to renegotiate a new deal that addresses its ballistic missile program and regional influence as well.

The US has also sent warships, bombers and additional troops to the region in the wake of suspicious tanker attacks in the Sea of Oman, which it has blamed on Iran without providing evidence.

Iran, however, has remained steadfast on its position. The Islamic Revolution Guards Corps shot down a US spy drone last week, prompting Trump to consider and quickly back out of retaliatory strikes.

'Sanctions show US lying'

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani doubled down on Iran’s stance on Tuesday, saying Washington's move in introducing more sanctions proved it was "lying" about talks.

Full report at:



US lawmakers unveil bill to block funds for war on Iran

Umar Farooq  



A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a measure to stop federal funds from being used for any military force against Tehran without Congress's consent.

The amendment, co-sponsored by congressmen Ro Khanna, Matt Gaetz and 17 others, serves as an impediment to many in U.S. President Donald Trump's cabinet who are pushing to attack Tehran.

"President Trump campaigned on ending costly wars overseas but given the advisors he chose and his recent risky actions, he is not living up to that promise," said Khanna in a statement.

"This bipartisan amendment is a vital safeguard against unilateral actions by this president who selected the architect of the Iraq war to be his national security advisor," Khanna added, referring to Trump's National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Bolton also served in former President George W. Bush's administration.

"Unfocused, unconstitutional, unending wars in the Middle East make America weaker, not stronger," said Gaetz.

Gaetz, who is a Republican and has shown support for Trump's decisions against Iran, still co-sponsored the amendment to ensure that "any military action is carried out Constitutionally."

In an interview with The Hill on Monday, Trump said that he does not need Congressional approval to strike Iran.

"I do like keeping them abreast, but I don’t have to do it legally," he said, referring to lawmakers.

The legislation put forth is an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, and specifically notes that neither an authorization for the use of military force from 2001 or 2002 could be used as justification for military force against Iran.

The amendment also says that no federal funds can be used for such military force without the authorization of Congress.

The Trump administration has taken a hardline approach towards Iran, reversing some of the steps taken by previous administrations.

In May 2018, Washington unilaterally withdrew from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and the EU.

As part of its campaign against the country, the U.S. has re-imposed sanctions on exports of Iranian crude oil, which have nosedived the Iranian economy, and designated Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization (FTO).

Full report at:





Counter-extremism strategy in London not good enough, says mayor

June 25, 2019

The strategy to tackle violent extremism in London is inadequate and puts people’s safety at risk, the capital’s mayor said on Tuesday.

Sadiq Khan called for immediate improvements to identifying, reporting and countering extremist activity as he published the findings of a review examining London’s ability to prevent attacks.

Mr Khan, who said he was investing £1 million into tackling the issue, said that extremists sought to exploit inequality and poverty in the capital to recruit the disenchanted.

The review was prompted by four terrorist attacks in the capital in 2017 – one by a far-right wing extremist - that left 14 people dead and dozens injured.

Sadiq Khan


The rise of violent extremism is a growing threat. Building strong, integrated communities is the way to tackle it.

Following the most comprehensive listening exercise ever undertaken on this issue - today we've published our new report & recommendations. …


3:10 PM - Jun 25, 2019

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City Hall in the sun

Countering Violent Extremism

The Mayor has launched a new programme for 2018 to improve and renew efforts to tackle violent extremism

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Inquests into attacks by four Islamist extremists outside parliament and at London Bridge less than three months apart have heard evidence of security shortcomings and missed opportunities that could have reduced the death toll. All of the attackers were shot dead.

“Good work in London has been evidenced but it is clear that our ability to tackle violent extremism currently is simply not good enough, putting our safety and security at risk,” Mr Khan wrote in the report. “Efforts to improve and renew are needed urgently.”

Mr Khan said the review also highlighted “failings and shortcomings” in the government’s counter-radicalisation strategy, Prevent, that is designed to identify potential terrorists and divert them from violence. Mr Khan said there was both misunderstanding and “deep mistrust” of the strategy from some sections of the community.

The UK government in January announced plans for an independent review of Prevent but said that it would take at least 18 months to report back.

In his foreword to a review of a two-year supplementary programme run by his city administration, Mr Khan aligned himself with critics of the government’s oversight of Prevent, which has divided opinion over the best way to tackle the spread of Islamist ideology.

“Against the backdrop of the heightened scale and pace of the threat of violent extremism, improvements simply cannot wait alone for a lengthy review process,” said Mr Khan, a politician from the opposition Labour party.

The report was set up to identify ways to strengthen minority communities and stop the spread of extremist ideology.

“There is no single pathway into violent extremism and there is no absolute check list as to who might be vulnerable to radicalisation,” the mayor said.

Full report at:



Nato calls on Russia to destroy new missile and warns of response

June 25, 2019

Nato urged Russia on Tuesday to destroy a new missile before an August deadline and save a treaty that keeps land-based nuclear warheads out of Europe or face a more determined alliance response in the region.

Nato defence ministers will discuss on Wednesday their next steps if Moscow keeps the missile system that the United States says would allow short-notice nuclear attacks on Europe and break the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

"We call on Russia to take the responsible path, but we have seen no indication that Russia intends to do so," Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference. "We will need to respond."

He declined to go into more details. But diplomats said defence ministers will consider more flights over Europe by US warplanes capable of carrying nuclear warheads, more military training and the repositioning US sea-based missiles.

The United States and its Nato allies want Russia to destroy its 9M729/SSC-8 nuclear-capable cruise missile system, which Moscow has so far refused to do. It denies any violations of the INF treaty, accusing Washington of seeking an arms race.

Without a deal, the United States has said it will withdraw from the INF treaty on August 2, removing constraints on its own ability to develop nuclear-capable, medium-range missiles.

The dispute has deepened a fissure in East-West ties that severely deteriorated after Russia's seizure of Crimea and its involvement in Syria.

Russia warned on Monday of a stand-off comparable to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis if the United States were to deploy land-based missile systems near Russia's borders, but Stoltenberg said there were no such plans.

US Ambassador to Nato Kay Bailey Hutchison told reporters that at present, Washington was only considering conventional, not nuclear weapons, in any possible response.

"All options are on the table but we are looking at conventional systems, that's important for our European allies to know," she said.

European allies are also worried about the deployment of US nuclear missiles in Europe, as happened in the 1980s, and being caught up in nuclear competition between Moscow and Washington.

Full report at:



UK stealth fighter jets join fight against Islamic State

25 June 2019

The UK's new F-35B Lightning II stealth fighter jets have joined the fight against the Islamic State group in their first operational missions.

The jets, based in Cyprus, have carried out more than 14 armed reconnaissance missions over Iraq and Syria, the Ministry of Defence says.

The RAF said the F-35s had not carried out any attacks and that the operations had gone "exceptionally well".

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt called it "a really historic moment".

Britain currently has 17 F-35Bs and has pledged to purchase 138 in total from US aviation giant Lockheed Martin.

The aircraft - which cost almost £100m - can land vertically, similar to the Harrier Jump Jet, and combine radar-evading stealth technology with supersonic speeds.

Six of the jets have been deployed at RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus since May for training exercises, in an operation known as Exercise Lightning Dawn.

As part of their training, the jets carried out 95 missions and flew in pairs for 225 hours, the MoD said.

They have now joined the hunt for militants under Operation Shader, the UK's contribution in the ongoing military action against IS.

Speaking from the Cypriot RAF base, Ms Mordaunt said she was "very proud that these are now flying in defence".

She added: "It obviously has some incredible capabilities which are really putting us in the lead."

The jets, jointly operated by the RAF and the Royal Navy, are expected to take off from the decks of the new £3.1bn Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier in the autumn for more testing.

Why F-35 jets' real test is still to come

By BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Beale

The first of Britain's most advanced and expensive fighter jets have now carried out more than a dozen missions over Iraq and Syria.

With IS having lost its territory and on the run there are now few obvious targets.

The F-35s have not yet conducted any airstrikes. Instead they've been using their sophisticated sensors to gather intelligence.

The RAF describes the F-35 as the best "eyes and ears" on the battlefield, even though the jet is still suffering from a host of technical problems.

But its other great asset is that it is hard to see. Britain's first "stealth" jet can, in theory, avoid detection by enemy radar.

Full report at:



France’s Macron speaks to Iran’s Rouhani to try to ease Mideast tension

25 June 2019

President Emmanuel Macron spoke by phone to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Tuesday as part of a French initiative to prevent an escalation of tensions in the Middle East, Macron's office said in a statement.

An Elysee official declined to give further details on the conversation.



UK FM Hunt says cannot envisage joining US-led war with Iran

25 June 2019

Britain does not expect the United States to request that the United Kingdom joins a war with Iran and London would be unlikely to agree to join such a conflict, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said on Tuesday.

“The US is our closest ally, we talk to them the whole time, we consider any requests that they say carefully, but I cannot envisage any situation where they request or we agree to any moves to go to war,” Hunt told parliament.

“The message we are sending with our partners in the European Union particularly the French and the Germans is that with respect to Iran’s nuclear program, this is a crucial week.

Full report at:



Iran shot down US spy drone inside its airspace: Putin aide

Jun 25, 2019

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s top security aide says Moscow has military intelligence indicating that a US spy drone was intruding into Iranian airspace when it was shot down by Iran’s air defenses, despite Washington’s claims to the contrary.

“I have information from the Defense Ministry of the Russian Federation that this drone was in Iranian airspace,” Head of Russia’s Security Council Nikolai Patrushev said at a briefing for journalists in Jerusalem al-Quds on Tuesday.

Tensions have been running high between Iran and the United States after Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) shot down on June 20 an intruding Global Hawk surveillance drone, which had violated Iranian airspace on a spying mission despite repeated warnings.

The US claims that the drone was flying in international airspace when it was targeted, without providing any evidence.

Hours later, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif of Iran released a map with detailed coordinates that clearly show the drone was flying over Iranian territorial waters off the coast of the country’s southern Hormozgan Province.

Javad Zarif


• Jun 20, 2019

The US wages #EconomicTerrorism on Iran, has conducted covert action against us & now encroaches on our territory.

We don't seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters.

We'll take this new aggression to #UN & show that the US is lying about international waters

Javad Zarif


At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace. It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59'43"N 57°02'25"E) near Kouh-e Mobarak.

We've retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.


11:50 PM - Jun 20, 2019

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In addition, Iran’s Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-e Ravanchi told reporters on Monday that the UN Security Council had been provided with “undeniable information” regarding the incident, which showed the aircraft’s exact course and point of entry into Iranian skies.

Takht-e Ravanchi was speaking on the sidelines of a closed-door Security Council session, which had been called by the US in an attempt to persuade the world body that Iran had unlawfully downed its drone, and that Tehran had been involved in recent attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.

America’s attempt apparently went down the drain, with the Security Council issuing a mere informal statement afterwards on behalf of the body, condemning the attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf, without mentioning Iran.

Elsewhere in his comments, Patrushev dismissed the charges leveled against Iran by the United States and some of its allies accusing Tehran of being behind recent attacks on two tanker ships in the Sea of Oman.

He said evidence presented by the US on the issue was poor quality and unprofessional.

One Japanese-owned and one Norwegian-owned tanker were struck by explosions near the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Tokyo said both vessels were carrying “Japanese-related” cargo.

Shortly after the incidents, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attacks.

The US military also released a grainy video that it claims showed an Iranian navy boat removing an unexploded mine attached to the hull of the Japanese-owned tanker.

The video was, however, disputed by experts and many world countries, including Russia and Washington’s own allies.

Tehran has dismissed all claims of its involvement, with Zarif saying the timing of the attacks was “suspicious” as they coincided with a meeting in Tehran between Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei.

Washington had earlier blamed Tehran for similar sabotage operations targeting oil tankers off the Emirati port city of Fujairah, an allegation categorically rejected by Iran.

Patrushev defends Iran’s Syria role

Patrushev was speaking following a trilateral meeting in the Israeli-occupied territories with US National Security Advisor John Bolton and head of Israel’s national security council Meir Ben-Shabbat.

The senior Russian official also delivered a strong defense of Iran’s anti-terrorism mission in Syria, amid Israeli calls for Moscow to force Iranians out of the Arab state.

Tehran and Moscow have been helping the Syrian government in its counter-terrorism operations at the Damascus government’s request.

Patrushev further hailed Iran as a significant contributor to the fight against terrorism and the settlement of the conflict in Syria.

“In the context of the statements made by our partners with regard to a major regional power, namely Iran, I would like to say the following: Iran has always been and remains our ally and partner, with which we are consistently developing relations both on bilateral basis and within multilateral formats,” Patrushev said.

Full report at:





Countries pledge $110 million for UN Palestinian agency

26 June 2019

More than $110 million was raised Tuesday at a pledging conference to support the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, which has been struggling since the United States slashed funding.

UNRWA chief Pierre Kraehenbuehl said the funding would allow the agency, which provides education and health services to Palestinians, to cover costs for the coming months and avoid a budget crisis.

Around 35 countries took part in the conference, mostly European and Arab nations, with the biggest contributions coming from the EU, Germany, and Britain.

The conference was held on the same day as President Donald Trump’s administration unveiled the economic component of a long-awaited Middle East peace plan, at a workshop in Bahrain.

The US plan dangles the prospect of $50 billion of investment in the Palestinian territories and neighboring Arab countries over 10 years.

Last year, the Trump administration cut all funding to UNRWA, arguing that it was flawed as Washington pressed ahead with work on proposals for an Israeli-Palestinian solution.

US Middle East advisor Jason Greenblatt in May told the Security Council that the agency should be dismantled and its services handed over to countries hosting the Palestinian refugees and NGOs.

Kraehenbuehl welcomed the pledge of $110 million, saying it was an “important amount” but said UNRWA would be seeking more funding to cover its annual budget of $1.2 billion in September.

“We hope this allows us to bridge a lot of the needs that we have in the next three to four months,” he told reporters.

There were no announcements of new contributions from Gulf countries, but the UNRWA chief stressed there were strong expressions of support for the agency’s work.

Last year, UNRWA relied on extra money from member states and internal savings to cover a $446 million budgetary hole. This year it unveiled a budget of $1.2 billion, unchanged from 2018.

Founded in 1949, UNRWA runs schools and provides health care for some five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip.



Iran ‘never seeks war’ with US, Rouhani tells French President Macron

26 June 2019

Iran “never seeks war with the United States,” President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday amid a spike in tensions between the two countries.

“Iran has no interest to increase tension in the region and it never seeks war with any country, including (the) US,” the president said during a phone conversation with his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, quoted by state news agency IRNA.



Iran foreign minister accuses US’ Bolton of plotting for war

25 June 2019

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused US National Security Adviser John Bolton of plotting for war against Iran in a tweet on Tuesday.

“Wanna know why those with proven record of detesting diplomacy are suddenly interested in talks? Just read @AmbJohnBolton’s 2017 recipe for destroying the #JCPOA,” Zarif wrote, adding a link to a 2017 article written by Bolton in the National Review. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, is the landmark 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with world powers.

“Iran never left the negotiation table. #B_Team dragged the US out, while plotting for war,” Zarif added.

Full report at:



Yemeni forces target Saudi airports in Jizan, Asir with combat drones

Jun 25, 2019

Yemeni army forces and fighters from allied Popular Committees have launched a string of airstrikes at Saudi military positions in the kingdom’s southern regions in retaliation for the Riyadh regime's deadly military campaign against their country.

The spokesman for Yemeni Armed Forces, Brigadier General Yahya Saree said, said Yemeni army forces, said on Tuesday evening that Yemeni troops and their allies had carried out aerial assaults against designated targets at Jizan Airport and Abha International Airport in Saudi Arabia’s southwestern province of Asir, using a squadron of domestically-manufactured Qasef-2K (Striker-2K) combat drones.

Saree further noted that the attacks led to the suspension of flights at the airports.

“The attacks on Abha and Jizan airports are in response to the crimes of Saudi-led aggressors and the ongoing siege on Yemen, which has now entered its fifth year,” the top Yemeni military official pointed out.

Saree then called on civilians and businesses to stay away from Saudi airports and military sites, stating that they are legitimate targets as long as the Saudi-led military aggression and the blockade of Yemen continue.

It is not the first attack on Abha International Airport. It was also struck by Yemeni forces on Monday, with one person killed and 8 others injured in the incident.

On June 19, Yemeni army forces, backed by fighters from Popular Committees, launched a series of airstrikes against unmanned aerial vehicles and military targets at Jizan Airport with a squadron of Qasef-2K drones.

Saree stated that air traffic at the airport was severely disrupted as a result.

Saudi Arabia and a number of its regional allies launched a devastating campaign against Yemen in March 2015, with the goal of bringing the government of former Yemeni president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi back to power and crushing the Houthi Ansarullah movement.

The US-based Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), a nonprofit conflict-research organization, estimates that the Saudi-led war has claimed the lives of over 60,000 Yemenis since January 2016.

Full report at:



Why the Palestinian economy urgently needs a stimulus


June 26, 2019

MANAMA: The experts are unanimous: The battered Palestinian economy is in urgent need of stimulus and investment to lift it out of a cycle of chronic depression.

But there is no clear consensus that the proposals put forward by Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s senior adviser on the Middle East, are the appropriate means of doing so.

Kushner is unveiling a $50 billion economic stimulus package at the Peace to Prosperity workshop being held in Bahrain’s capital Manama.

By any economic indicator, the West Bank and Gaza Strip are well down the global league. Gross domestic product (GDP) of around $15 billion puts them near Malta and Albania in the world growth tables compiled by the International Monetary Fund.

According to the World Bank, unemployment averaging around 31 percent for the two parts of Palestine, and hitting a dramatic 51 percent in Gaza, is among the highest rates in the world.

Palestine is dependent on foreign aid and grants, and Israel’s forbearance, to come anywhere near balancing its national budget, but most of the time it runs a sizable deficit.

By any normal standards, Palestine is an economic basket case. If it were a corporation, it would have filed for bankruptcy long ago.

“Grants, financed from our own income and supplemented by trust funds contributed by donors, fund the Palestinian Authority’s projects in water and sanitation, municipal, education and social protection sectors,” the World Bank said recently.

There is little doubt as to the cause of the Palestinian malaise: The Israeli occupation, and the more or less permanent state of hostility it creates, preventing Palestinians from living a normal economic life.

“The lack of progress toward peace and reconciliation creates an unsustainable economic situation,” the World Bank said.

“The Palestinian internal polity is sharply divided between Gaza and the West Bank. Due to a steep deterioration in Gaza and a slowdown in the West Bank, the Palestinian economy witnessed no real growth in 2018.”

The UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) was equally certain of the cause of the chronic economic slump.  “Occupation has hollowed out the agricultural and industrial sectors and weakened the ability of the economy of the Occupied Palestinian Territory to compete at home and abroad,” it said.

“The fact that, today, real GDP per capita in the Occupied Palestinian Territory is at the same level as in 1999 is a clear indication of the human cost and lost economic potential resulting from occupation,” it added.

“Economic growth in all sectors is constrained by the loss of land and resources to Israeli settlements and the annexation of land in the West Bank.”

UNCTAD highlighted the problem of youth unemployment in Palestine. “This marginalization of young people discourages investment in education, lowers the accumulation of human capital and deprives the economy of potential entrepreneurs and creative thinkers,” it said.

Eminent Middle East economist Nasser Saidi told Arab News: “The distortions of the Israeli occupation — the barriers and obstacles — have led to a lack of infrastructure and increasing the cost of doing business.” He added: “A lot of these were put there in the name of security, but many of them are unnecessary. If you want to address the economic issues, you need to remove these barriers.”

He believes that Kushner’s proposals will have only a “very limited” impact. “These aren’t really investments, they’re more like long-term loans to the Palestinians, and you have to question their ability to service the loans,” Saidi said. “What’s really needed is a Marshall Plan for Palestine, but this isn’t it. It barely addresses the issues in Gaza, for example, which is essentially a large number of people in what is effectively a concentration camp. How can they hope to be productive in an economic sense?”

Other Middle East experts shared this skepticism, and pointed to the problem of corruption in Palestine.

“The Kushner peace plan faces extraordinarily long odds, and not just because the problem has persisted for a century,” Ellen Wald, an American consultant and author of the recent book “Saudi, Inc.,” told Arab News.

Full report at:





Audio bares rift in Valley terror: Al-Qaeda cell lashes out at Pakistan

Ieshan Wani

Jun 26, 2019

The second part of the conversation, purportedly between Abu Dujana, a former Lashkar commander who became an Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind terrorist, and the group's founder Zakir Musa, gives details on how pro-Pakistan terrorists were hounding those who abandoned Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in the region. One of these operatives is Abu Dujana, who switched from Lashkar to Ansar after an ideological rift with the group.

Both the terror commanders give details to how they were harassed by Pakistan-sponsored terrorists on leaving their group and following a pan-Islamist ideology.

In the conversation, they also blame Hizb-ul-Mujahideen for harassing families of some terrorists who defected from Hizb to Ansar.

Criticising stone-pelters who shout pro-Pakistan slogans, he is heard telling Musa that they are being misled and they don't die as 'martyrs'.

Dujana had succeeded Abu Qasim as Lashkar-e-Toiba divisional commander in 2015 after he was killed in an encounter with the security forces.

Dujana and Zakir discuss the flow of weapons in Kashmir from Pakistan. Dujana says groups like Hizb, LeT and JeM collect donations in the name of Islam in Pakistan, then buy weapons which are dispatched to Kashmir for 'Jihad'.

In the conversation, they question terror outfits that "snatch" weapons bought with money collected through donations in the name of 'Jihad'.

"This is a fight for land for Pakistan. If they are so sincere, why don't they save Muslims in China?" Musa tells Dujana.

This has once again brought the cleft between the terror groups operating in Kashmir out in open.

Zakir, a harsh critique of separatist politics, had once threatened to behead separatists in Srinagar. He had called on terror groups to enforce Shariah, seeking an Islamic struggle. Dujana, from Gilgit Baltistan, had snuck into the Valley around 2011 and was the most wanted terrorist there.

Keeping An Eye Out

Although the Indian security establishment believes there is no immediate threat from pan-Islamist group by Ansar Ghazwat-ul-Hind, it is keeping a close eye on the situation.



India, Pak clash over Nizam of Hyderabad funds in UK

Jun 26, 2019

LONDON: A battle is underway in the UK high court between the grandson of the 7th and last Nizam of Hyderabad, the government of India and the government of Pakistan over £35 million (about Rs 308 crore) stashed away in a British bank account since Partition.

The 70-year dispute centres on £1 million that on around September 16, 1948 was transferred by the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad — who ruled the princely state between 1911 and 1948 — to a bank account in London held by Pakistan’s then high commissioner to the UK, Habib Ibrahim Rahimtoola. The £1 million has since grown to £35 million and remains in a NatWest bank account.

Whilst the grandson of the 7th Nizam, Mukarram Jah, who claims the title of 8th Nizam of Hyderabad and resides in Turkey, and his younger brother, Muffakham Jah, claim they are the beneficial owners as the fund was gifted to them in a trust by their grandfather set up on April 24, 1963, the Pakistan government says it was a payment made by the state of Hyderabad to Pakistan for arming Hyderabad when it was about to be invaded by India.

After Partition, the 7th Nizam chose for Hyderabad to remain independent. But Hyderabad was annexed to India as a result of Operation Polo between September 13 and 18, 1948.

During a two-week trial in the Business List of the high court, which concluded on Friday, Eason Rajah QC, representing Mukarram Jah, claimed the £1 million was passed to Rahimtoola on “trust for safe-keeping”.

But Pakistan’s argument is that the £1 million was a payment to Pakistan for arming Hyderabad against India in September 1948 and Pakistan being a sovereign state cannot be subjected to scrutiny by the English courts.

Paul Hewitt, a partner at Withers LLP, the solicitors representing the Mukarram Jah, told TOI: “His Exalted Highness Nizam VIII and his younger brother have waited decades to receive what their grandfather gifted them. Pakistan has blocked access for 70 years and we hope the recent trial will mean a final resolution at last.”

Mukarram Jah’s skeleton arguments, which TOI has a copy of, state that on September 15, 1948 Nawab Moin Nawaz Jung, the 7th Nizam’s finance minister, wrote to Rahimtoola asking whether in view of the situation developing in Hyderabad, in order to safeguard the interests of the state, could he transfer £1 million to his account. “This amount may kindly be kept by you in trust,” he wrote. “Moin took these steps to safeguard the fund in view of the invasion of Hyderabad by India,” Mukarram Jah’s arguments plead. But the transfer was not authorised by the 7th Nizam.

Pakistan, however, pleads: “The monies cannot sensibly or realistically have been transferred to Pakistan on the basis that Pakistan would hold them as agent or trustee for the Nizam, so that upon conquest of Hyderabad, India could compel the Nizam to transfer the monies to India. The transfer to the Rahimtoola account was a transaction between states, Hyderabad and Pakistan, entered into in highly political circumstances when Hyderabad was facing or subject to an unlawful invasion by India.”

Khawar Qureshi QC, representing Pakistan, states in his skeleton arguments that: “Hyderabad transferred the monies to the Rahimtoola account in order to compensate/reimburse/indemnify Pakistan in connection with the assistance she had provided the 7th Nizam and keep the monies out of the hands of India. Pakistan assisted the 7th Nizam by procuring the supply and/or transportation of weapons via Pakistan to Hyderabad, in support of Hyderabad’s attempts at self-defence against Indian aggression.”

The two-week trial ended on Friday and Justice Marcus Smith is expected to hand down judgment in a few months’ time as to both whether English courts have jurisdiction over the matter and who should get their hands on the money.

At one point the Indian government had a claim over the money too, but India and the two princes have reached a confidential agreement over this.

On July 8, 1954, once things had settled down, the 7th Nizam of Hyderabad together with the state of Hyderabad issued a writ before the UK high court against the government of Pakistan and Rahimtoola asking for the £1 million back. On July 19, 1955, Rahimtoola got the writ set aside on the basis the English courts were interfering with Pakistan’s sovereign immunity. The money has stayed frozen in the bank account ever since.

Full report at:



733 terrorists killed in Jammu & Kashmir in last 3 years: MoS Home Reddy

Jun 25, 2019

NEW DELHI: As many as 733 terrorists have been neutralised in Jammu & Kashmir in the past three-and-a-half years, including 113 until June 16 this year.

In written reply to a question in the Lok Sabha, minister of state for home G Kishan Reddy said while killings of terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir have steadily gone up from 150 in 2016 to 213 in 2017 and 257 in 2018, civilians killed in terror-related incidents rose from 15 in 2015 to 40 in 2017, and stayed constant at 39 in 2018. Until June 16 this year, 18 civilian killings were reported from the Valley.

The policy to engage terrorists in intelligence-based encounters in the Valley is expected to continue under home minister Amit Shah. Shah will be paying his first visit to the state starting Wednesday. During his two-day stay, he will hold talks with governor Satya Pal Malik, attend the Unified Headquarters meeting and also review security arrangements for the Amarnath Yatra that begins on July 1.

Shah's visit comes in the backdrop of Hurriyat leader Mirwaiz Umer Farooq indicating willingness for talks and Malik terming it as an "encouraging sign".

Meanwhile, in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday, Reddy, while responding to a question, informed that violent incidents in Jammu & Kashmir had peaked at 614 in 2018, an 80 per cent rise over 342 incidents reported in 2017. Civilians killed stood at 40 in 2018, up from 39 in 2017, while fatalities among security personnel totalled 91 last year, up from 80 in 2017. In comparison, there were 222 incidents in Jammu & Kashmir in 2014, which killed 28 civilians and 47 security personnel. While the figures fell in 2015, they rose prominently in 2016 on account of cycle of violence triggered by the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani in July 2016.

In comparison, the situation in Left-wing extremism-hit states has shown considerable improvement over the last five years.

Between the period 2009-2013, when UPA was in power, and 2014-2018 under NDA regime, incidents of Naxalite violence fell by 43.4 per cent, civilian deaths by 59.1 per cent and security personnel fatalities by 63.6 per cent. The killing of Maoists however went up 10.5 per cent over the corresponding period.

Interestingly, Left-wing extremism-related violence was reported from only 60 districts across 8 states - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha and Telangana - last year, even though Centre had classified 90 districts as Naxal-affected and offering them financial support. Two-thirds of violent incidents in 2018 were reported from 10 districts.

Full report at:



2014 Burdwan blast accused, Habibur Rahman, arrested by NIA in Bengaluru

Tanweer Azam

Jun 25, 2019

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday arrested Habibur Rahman, one of the prime accused in Burdwan blast case. Rahman was arrested in Bengaluru and will be brought to Kolkata on transit remand. The NIA had announced a reward of Rs 10 lakh for providing information related to the whereabouts of Rahman, who is the closest aided of Burdwan blast mastermind Kausar.

Burdwan blast took place on October 2, 2014 and the investigation of this blast helped the security forces in uncovering the sleeper cells of Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh operating in West Bengal. Two JMB operatives had died in the blast while making bombs while a third one was seriously injured. The initial investigation in this case was started by West Bengal Police but the probe was later handed over to NIA. The police had seized a huge cache of explosives, including IEDs and RDX from the blast site.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Special Task Force (STF) of Kolkata Police arrested four neo-Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) or the Islamic State (IS) operatives in the city. Two operatives identified as Md. Jiaur Rahman and Mamonur Rashid - both Bangladeshi nationals, were arrested from the vicinity of Sealdah Railway Station's parking lot. The police have seized a mobile phone containing photos, videos, jihadi text and literature from them.

Two other operatives identified as Md. Sahin Alam and Robiul Islam were arrested from Howrah Station. The STF sid that Alam is a Bangladeshi national, while Islam is an Indian and belongs to Birbhum district in West Bengal.

Full report at:



Ayodhya in focus at Waqf Board meet

Jun 25, 2019

The Uttar Pradesh Sunni Central Waqf Board (UPSCWB) held a meeting on Tuesday to discuss issues including those related to the progress in the ongoing negotiations with the Supreme Court-appointed Ayodhya mediation panel.

“The board chairman Zufar Ahmed Farooqui apprised the members about his discussion and meetings with mediation panel and everyone expressed satisfaction over the developments,” said a UPSCWB member, who attended the meeting, on condition of anonymity.

Some members were of the view that the issue had been dragging on for far too long and if there was any possibility of a “just and honourable settlement”, it should be discussed, he added.

The meeting assumes significance in view of Babri-Masjid Action Committee’s recent statement saying it was better to wait for a court verdict in the matter instead of exploring the possibility of a negotiated settlement.

“The Muslims have always made it clear that they are willing to cooperate but then something tangible and worthwhile should be there to consider for both the parties,” the member quoted above said.

He added that a final decision would be taken only after consulting all parties to the dispute and the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.

The panel has also invited the UPSWB for talks even as it is not a litigant in the case. The UPSWB has expressed its willingness to give up the disputed land in Ayodhya in exchange for an alternative site for building a mosque.

Another round of talks with the mediation panel was scheduled to take place in the first week of July in New Delhi.

Full report at:



1 militant killed in J-K’s Pulwama, body recovered

Jun 26, 2019

t least one militant was killed after a gunfight with security forces in Tral in south Kashmir’s Pulwama district on Wednesday, ahead of Union home minister Amit Shah’s two-day visit to the state.

A police official said the body of the militant was retrieved from the site of encounter. The identity and affiliation of the killed militant is being ascertained, the official said. Incriminating material, including arms and ammunition, has been recovered from the site of encounter, he added.

The operation began in the morning when the Indian Army and state police launched an operation in Branpathri forests in Tral following information about the presence of a group of militants there.

“Hiding militants opened fire at the security forces after the cordon around them was tightened. Intermittent firing exchanges are now going on between the security forces and the militants hiding in the area,” police sources said, according to news agency IANS.

Shah and home secretary Rajiv Gauba will fly to Srinagar on Wednesday afternoon and return a day later. Soon after his arrival, Shah will review the security situation in Valley at a high-level meeting.

He will also chair a meeting of the Unified Command – which comprises officers of the Indian Army, Border Security Force (BSF), Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the state police – to review steps taken for a peaceful and terror-free Amarnath Yatra and discuss ongoing and future counterterror operations.

Full report at:



Indian police arrest 11 for torturing Muslim man to death

June 25, 2019

NEW DELHI: Indian police arrested 11 people Tuesday over the killing of a Muslim man who was tortured and forced to chant Hindu slogans in the latest mob violence to shock the nation.

Two police officers have also been suspended over the handling of the lynching of Tabrez Ansari, captured on a video that went viral on Indian social media.

The 24-year-old is seen in the video crying and pleading as a mob in Jharkhand state forces him to chant “Jai Sri Ram” — hail Lord Ram — a slogan widely used by Hindu hard-liners.

Ansari had been accused by villagers of carrying out a burglary. He was tied to a pole and beaten for up to 12 hours before police first detained him in Seraikela, and then took him to hospital — where he died Saturday.

“We have arrested 11 people. Two police have also been suspended because they failed to inform seniors about the case and tried to manage it at their level,” Seraikela police chief Karthik S. told AFP.

Media reports said Ansari’s wife has accused police of deliberately taking him to jail first — instead of a hospital — despite the critical injuries he suffered.

News of the death emerged as the Indian government rejected a US State Department report that said religious violence against minorities has spiked under the right-wing Hindu Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The US religious freedom report said there had been growing numbers of attacks by groups claiming to protect cows — considered sacred by Hindus — on Muslims and low-caste Dalits since 2014 when Modi came to power.

Opponents in India have also accused the government of not doing enough to stop lynchings.

Minority Affairs Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi condemned the killing however, and said the government would not let a “destructive agenda” dominate India’s development efforts.

“People who are involved in such incidents have only one motive — to spoil the positive atmosphere created by the government,” he said.

The opposition Congress party accused Modi’s right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) of failing to protect Muslims and other minorities.

Full report at:





P.M. Imran Khan’s Serious Efforts for Islamic Ummah’s Unity

By Sajjad Shaukat

June 25, 2019

Pakistan’s former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was a strong spokesman of the World of Islam and the leader of the Third World. He was the founder of Pakistan’s nuclear program. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto had announced that he would call Third World summit in his second tenure. Bhutto wanted to liberate the Third World and the Muslim World from neo-imperialism and neo-colonialism.

As a result, former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger warned Zulfikar Ali Bhutto that if Pakistan continued with its nuclear program-“the Prime Minister would have to pay a heavy price. We will make an example of you”. The neo-colonialists made a horrible example of Bhutto and assassinated him for his anti-imperialistic stance and his efforts to unite the Islamic World.

In fact, from the very beginning, American CIA kept eye on the nuclear program of Pakistan and practical steps, taken by the then Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto to unity the Islamic Ummah.

Afterward, Bhutto’s government was toppled in 1977 by a CIA-backed coup of Chief of Army Staff Gen. Zia-ul-Haq who hanged him through the court, which is considered a judicial murder in Pakistan.

After Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, another leader-Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has emerged on the scene, who speaks convincingly and clearly and feels the pain of the Islamic Ummah currently passing through a difficult phase.

Since Imran Khan became prime minister of Pakistan, he has been making serious efforts to create unity of the Islamic Ummah.

In this regard, during the 14th session of the Islamic Summit, leaders from across the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met in Makkah, Saudi Arabia on June 1, this year, which follows two emergency Arab meetings the night before in Makkah.

While some rulers of Arab countries criticized Iran and its influence in relation to Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, which further showed disunity among the Muslim World.

Unlike the other leaders who addressed the OIC summit, in his speech, while expressing views on bilateral, regional and international matters of mutual interest and the issues being faced by the Islamic world, Prime Minister Imran Khan insisted on practical unity of the Islamic Ummah.

Imran Khan who has been persistent in calling for a global fight against rising anti-Muslim bigotry along the same lines as anti-Semitism after the Holocaust, started his maiden speech by raising the issue of Islamophobia, saying; “When someone from the West blasphemed our Holy Prophet (PBUH), I always felt the response from the Muslim Ummah and OIC was lacking…it is a failure of the OIC that we have not been able to explain to the other countries the love and affection we feel for our Holy Prophet…Some western countries are suffering from Islamophobia. The West should differentiate between moderate Muslims and extremist Muslims…The international community has to respect the feelings of more than 1 billion Muslims…I also want to bring up the point that the Muslim World must pay more attention to science and technology…We must pay more attention to quality education and universities; an area in which the Muslim world lags. I fear the Muslim world may be left behind again and this is the best forum to raise this concern in.”

Prime Minister Khan also specifically talked about the plight of both Palestinian and Kashmiri people, calling for resolution of these issues in accordance with the wishes and aspirations of the people of both the territories. He further stated that he also “plays his role to promote unity in the Muslim World which in fact is the need of the hour to wage a joint struggle against the oppressed Muslims living under the tyranny of occupying forces.”

Besides other leaders, Imran Khan strongly condemned the inhumane situation of Rohingya Muslims, urging a halt to violence and stressed: “Myanmar’s government has the responsibility to protect its citizens.”

OIC also slammed the US decision to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem and recognize the disputed city as Israel’s capital and urged all members to “boycott” countries that have opened diplomatic missions in the city. The body also refused to accept any decision to change the legal and demographic status of Syria’s Golan Heights, especially the US decision to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the territory.

One day before the Summit, Prime Minister Khan performed Umrah (pilgrimage) and prayed for the unity of the Muslim community all over the world.

Various analysts have appreciated the speech of Pakistan’s premier and opined: “Muslim Ummah is confronting a number of challenges in recent times and both Saudi Arabia and Pakistan could play a vital role in the unity of Muslim world. Anti-Islam forces were very active in hatching conspiracies against Muslims throughout history and enemies of Islam are still active. Muslim Ummah can foil their nefarious designs through unity and steadfastness. Muslim Ummah should solve its internal ideological differences in a peaceful way; it is what Khan’s address displayed.”

It is notable that his first address to the nation on October 24, 2018, Prime Minister Imran Khan also announced that Pakistan is trying “to play the role of a mediator in the Yemen war involving Saudi Arabia…Pakistan will try to play to its role in ending conflicts in the region and bring all Muslim countries together.”

It is mentionable that in 2015, Riyadh emphasized upon Islamabad to send its forces to join the US-backed NATO-like Saudi-led coalition to conduct aerial strikes on Yemen. But, Pakistan refused to join this alliance which was anti-Iran and also refused to participate in the Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen. Prime Minister Khan continued this policy firmly.

Notably, Prime Minister Imran Khan in a meeting with Ambassador of Yemen Mohammed Motahar Alashabi in Islamabad on November 7, last year assured the envoy of Pakistan’s “unwavering support in the early resolution of the conflict” in Yemen. He reciprocated the sentiments of the Yemeni leadership and wished for an early end of hostilities for lasting peace in Yemen. While emphasizing the need for dialogue, the prime minister stated that the conflict in Yemen affects regional peace and stability and that it does not have a military solution. He also called for more concerted and coordinated efforts at a global level to alleviate the sufferings of the Yemeni people and to ensure their safe return to their homes.

During his first trip to Saudi Arabia to attend the Future Investment Initiative (FII) conference on October 23, 2018, Prime Minister Khan had also insisted upon the unity of the Islamic Ummah.

And Prime Minister Imran Khan visited Iran on April 21, this year. During his two-day trip, he met Iran’s Supreme Leader Seyyed Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. He also stated that Islamabad will mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran as part of creating unity of the Islamic Ummah.

Similarly, during his trip to Saudi Arabia on September 20, 2018, P.M. Khan met with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul Aziz. In the meeting, the two leaders discussed the bilateral relationship, the regional and global political situation and the issues confronting the Muslim Ummah. Again, Khan insisted on the unity of the Muslim World.

Undoubtedly, P.M. Imran Khan’s serious efforts for Islamic Ummah’s Unity are being appreciated by Muslims all over the world.

Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is an author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations



Despite reservations about jury, Pakistan to implement FATF reforms: envoy

Anwar Iqbal

June 26, 2019

WASHINGTON: Despite its reservations about the fairness of the jury which is to determine Pakistan’s performance against terror financing, the government is committed to implementing its action plan for dealing with this issue, says Islamabad’s Washington envoy Asad Majeed Khan.

In a conversation with a prominent US scholar George Perkovich, recorded at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington on Monday afternoon, Ambassador Khan said the actions that Pakistan had taken so far to eliminate terror financing were “reflective of the political will”.

“We feel that we have done a lot. We are also clear and determined to do more,” said the envoy while responding to a question about a meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) held in Orlando last week, which asked Pakistan to implement its own action plan for eliminating terror financing by October. Failing to do so could put Pakistan on a blacklist of violators and bring strict economic sanctions too.

“But we would not want the jury to be rigged. And there are already predetermined positions. Be it the statements issued by the Indian minister for finance or by their other senior leaders, publicly calling for the blacklisting of Pakistan,” said the ambassador while explaining why Islamabad thought the jury that was hearing its case was not fair.

“Ironically, India is also the co-chair of (FATF’s) Asia Pacific Group, So you put yourself in our position and ask us what would our confidence level be in terms of the fairness of that jury which is sitting in judgement on our performance,” Mr Khan said.

The ambassador, however, assured the international community that its concerns about the fairness of the jury would not prevent Pakistan from implementing the action plan, as agreed with the FATF. “We are still taking it very, very seriously and we are still taking it to the logical conclusion,” he said.

Of the FATF countries who met in Orlando, three — China, Turkey and Malaysia — opposed putting Pakistan on the blacklist, thwarting an Indian move to use the forum for browbeating Islamabad.

Ambassador Khan recalled that Pakistan had “willingly and voluntarily” signed on to the FATF process and had already implemented some key measures of the 20-point action plan. The measures include strict actions against extremist groups, non-state actors and anyone who was likely to abuse Pakistan’s space, facilities or territory against anyone, he added.

“It is a tough set of conditions with a rather short timeline. But the actions that we are taking, that’s one part. I can say that we have covered a lot of ground,” the ambassador said.

“Over the last few months, we have actually seized assets of around 700 entities. We have taken over the facilities run by some of those proscribed entities. We have proscribed 11 new entities. The terrorist financing cases have gone up by almost 95 per cent. There’s 175pc increase in arrests linked to that. There is also almost 82pc rise in conviction rates.”

Mr Khan said Pakistan was also putting in place the infrastructure and legal frameworks required to deal with this problem and it also had a clear “determination to see it through in terms of vigorously implementing” these measures.

He said through this forum, he would like to share a broad message with the international community: “There is a clear recognition (in Pakistan) that without a peace within and peace without, the government will not be able to implement and execute its development agenda.”

The measures that Pakistan was taking in collaboration with FATF were part of a wider effort for bringing economic prosperity and stability to the country.

“We are not making it because we are obligated to do it under FATF. We are doing it because it is part of our national action plan,” he said.

Full report at:



Pakistan proposes 6-point plan at UN to counter racism, religious hatred

June 25, 2019

Pakistan has proposed a six-point plan at the United Nations to counter increasing racism and faith-based hatred, particularly Islamophobia, around the world, Radio Pakistan reported on Tuesday.

The plan was proposed by Pakistan's Permanent Representative to the UN Maleeha Lodhi at an event “Countering terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belie" that was arranged by Pakistan along with the UN, Turkey and the Holy See at the headquarters of the world body.

During her speech, Lodhi said: "A particularly alarming development is the rise of Islamophobia, which represents the recent manifestation of the age-old hatred that spawned anti-Semitism, racism, apartheid and many other forms of discrimination."

The six-point plan at a glance:

Legislation by countries to address racism and faith-based hatred

Monitoring social media platforms to prevent hate speech and negative stereotyping

A "focused strategy" to counter Islamophobia

Increased investment in research to identify root causes of religious hatred

Increased engagement of women and youth

Increase investment in education

Lodhi highlighted the need for governments to "adopt legislation" to address the issues. She also stressed that tech companies "must prevent digital technologies and social media platforms from becoming channels for inflammatory content, incitement and negative stereotyping".

The Pakistani ambassador to the UN said that Islamophobia must be countered through a "focused strategy as social tensions engendered by it posed a risk to vulnerable Muslim migrants and refugees in the West, besides potentially threatening the social cohesion of host communities".

She further said that there was a "need to boost investment in enhanced research" to analyse root causes of religious hatred and the reasons behind the violence sparked by it.

Full report at:



Pakistan, EU sign new strategic engagement plan

June 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the European Union on Tuesday inked their Strategic Engagement Plan (SEP), which is expected to provide the framework for greater cooperation and stronger ties between the two sides.

The SEP was signed by Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and EU High Representative Federica Mogherini at a ceremony in Brussels.

The new strategic engagement plan for steering their bilateral relationship was agreed upon after protracted negotiations at the fourth round of Pakistan-EU strategic dialogue held in Islamabad in March.

Addressing the EU’s Political and Security Committee, Mr Qureshi shared Pakistan’s perspective on regional security and hailed the new engagement, saying it would bring about qualitative change in ties.

“The SEP will usher in a qualitatively new phase in our relationship, and further deepen this partnership through an all-encompassing framework of cooperation,” the minister said.

Mr Qureshi added: “Collaboration in the sphere of peace and security, through a structured security dialogue, is an essential pillar of this plan.”

The new security dialogue under SEP has replaced the earlier series of annual counterterrorism and non-proliferation and disarmament dialogues.

Recalling that Pakistan and EU were maintaining high-level military-to-military contacts, the foreign minister said the new format would build upon previous engagements and help the two sides engage in a more comprehensive manner.

“Pakistan-EU Staff Talks provide the framework for this engagement; and enable both sides to understand respective threat perceptions, challenges and regional security dimensions,” he added.

A third round of Pakistan-EU Staff talks also started in Brussels on Tuesday.

Sharing Pakistan’s perspective on regional security, the foreign minister said the country was pursuing the policy of cooperation with all neighbours including India. In this regard, he reminded the EU committee of the initiatives undertaken by Pakistan including work on the opening of the Kartarpur corridor and expression of readiness to discuss Kashmir, terrorism and all other matters. On Afghanistan, he said operationalisation of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity reflected Pakistan’s foreign policy vision.

Any move towards improvement in relations, he maintained, should be on the basis of mutual respect, sovereign equality and mutual benefit.

He apprised the committee about threats to strategic stability in South Asia due to growing conventional asymmetry between Pakistan and India; supply of advanced military hardware and sensitive technologies to India; and adoption of offensive force postures and doctrines by India.

“Under these destabilising circumstances, Pakistan has no option but to maintain a minimum credible deterrence, while aspiring for a Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia,” he emphasised.

He rejected the concept of India serving as a “Net Security Provider,” “Economic Anchor” or “counter weight to China”, harboured by few in the West.

Doing so offsets “the strategic balance in South Asia, undermining regional stability. At the same time, enhanced strategic space for India in Afghanistan seriously impacts Pakistan’s security,” Mr Qureshi cautioned.

Kashmir dispute, he said, was the single biggest obstacle towards peace and stability in South Asia.

He expressed concerns over the escalating tensions in the Middle East between Iran and the United States.

Touching upon the efforts for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan dispute, he said Pakistan was extending full support to the peace efforts in Afghanistan. “Pakistan, through its limited role and influence, facilitated direct talks between the US and the Taliban through authoritative representatives. We also released Mullah Baradar and other Taliban prisoners to provide impetus to this process,” he noted and added that Pakistan contributed to bringing synergy to the peace process and overcoming deadlocks.

COAS meets UK officials

In his meetings with British officials, Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa, who is on a visit to the United Kingdom, also spoke about the situation in Afghanistan.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted an update on Gen Bajwa’s visit. “COAS interacted with Sir Mark Sedwill NSA & Cabinet Secretary at the Cabinet Office and Mr Stephen Lovegrove Permanent Secretary at Ministry of Defense,” he said.

Full report at:



Gen Bajwa, British NSA discuss Afghan peace

Jun 26, 2019

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan’s army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa on Tuesday called on the United Kingdom’s National Security Adviser (NSA) Mark Sedwill and Ministry of Defence’s Permanent Secretary Stephen Lovegrove to discuss the regional security situation, particularly the Afghan peace process.

According to a statement by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Pakistan’s contributions to help restore peace were also acknowledged during the meeting.

Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor


COAS interacted with Sir Mark Sedwill NSA & Cabinet Secy at the Cabinet Office and Mr Stephen Lovegrove Permanent Secy MoD at MoD. Regional situation including Afghan Peace Process was discussed. Both dignitaries acknowledged Pakistan’s contributions towards regional peace.


16:13 - 25 Jun 2019

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Pak army chief trolled for watching cricket at Lord’s

Jun 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: The presence of the Pakistan army chief and his spokesperson at Lord’s Cricket Ground in London to watch a key World Cup match between Pakistan and South Africa on Sunday is doing the rounds on social media, with some Pakistani fans attributing Pakistan’s defeat of South Africa to the presence of the chief of army staff, General Qamar Bajwa, at the stadium.

“Yeh jo karkardagi hai, iss ke peechay wardi hai (The uniform is responsible for the Pakistan team’s good performance),” several spectators were shouting. One person tweeted: “Koi puchay to kehna... Qamar Bajwa aya tha.” However, the response of some Twitter users was not as friendly. Former Pakistan lawmaker Bushra Gohar asked, “Priorities!!! Are the Pak COAS/Generals on a private visit to UK to watch Pak-SA match? Who has authorised & paid for their visit? Hope it isn’t charged to the poor taxpayers (sic).”

“My very humble request to Bushra Gohar is to please avoid tweeting while being in front of mirror or using wrong glasses.

Full report at:



Pakistan minister for probe into previous governments' failure in securing FATF membership

Jun 25, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan's human rights minister on Tuesday demanded a probe into the failure of past governments in getting the FATF membership, saying India has been creating issues for long.

The Paris-based anti-money laundering watchdog placed Pakistan on grey list in June 2018 and asked it to implement an action plan to address the issue of money laundering and terror-financing.

Shireen Mazari told Parliament that it was criminal negligence that previous governments did not pursue the membership of the

Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which was set up by the G-7 countries in 1989 to curb money laundering.

India became FATF member in 1998 and has been creating issues for Pakistan, she said.

"Parliament should conduct an investigation against specific members of bureaucracy, foreign ministers and institutional heads

(of previous governments) for not applying for the membership of the FATF," she said.

The minister accused that previous rulers were corrupt and involved in money laundering, so they avoided FATF membership.

Mazari was irked after reports that India was pushing to get Pakistan on the black list of the FATF. She said Pakistan's membership of the FATF would have saved it from current troubles.

She also said that the consular access agreement signed between Pakistan and India in 2008 was not registered in the UN.

Mazari said that two countries agreed not to give consular access to the spies and had it been registered with the UN, the

International Court of Justice (ICJ) would not have taken cognizance of the Indian plea regarding consular access to

Kulbhushan Jadhav.

She demanded that probe should be launched for failure to register the agreement with the UN.

Full report at:



No country has sought NRO for Nawaz: Prime Minister Imran

Syed Irfan Raza

June 26, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan said on Tuesday that no country had approached him to strike any concessional deal with former prime minister Nawaz Sharif to provide him a safe exit.

The prime minister passed these remarks while presiding over a meeting of the parliamentary committee of the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) at Parliament House.

Some of the participants expressed concern over some proposals in the federal budget 2019-20, saying the budget would bring more hardship to the middle classes.

“No country has approached me to ask for concessions for Nawaz Sharif,” a participant of the meeting quoted the prime minister as saying.

He said the prime minister reiterated his resolve that no National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO)-like concession deal would be made with Mr Sharif. “We will not grant any NRO to Nawaz Sharif and national wealth looted by former rulers will be recovered at any cost,” he added.

He said the opposition was using “pressure tactics” to seek NRO for Mr Sharif and evade accountability for corruption.

Some private TV channels reported that Prime Minister Khan said in the meeting that the Saudi government had not asked him to give any NRO to Nawaz Sharif.

However, the PM said, he was expecting that Turkey would definitely ask him to give some relaxation to the jailed leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) who had been convicted by the accountability court of Islamabad in a corruption case.

According to TV channels, the prime minister said he was expecting that Mr Recep Tayyip Erdogan would talk to him about Nawaz Sharif, but the Turkish president did not do so.

A PTI leader told Dawn that some of the participants asked the prime minister to provide some relief to the middle class people in the recently announced budget.

The prime minister was told that majority of ruling PTI voters belonged to the middle class and the party could lose its support among the public if no relief was given to the middle class.

Prime Minister Khan agreed with the suggestion that the government must make the budget beneficial to the middle class people, saying they were the backbone of the economy.

The meeting also discussed overall political situation in the country in the backdrop of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl chief Maulana Falur Rehman’s plan to convene a multi-party conference in the federal capital on Wednesday (today).

On this the prime minister was confident that the people would not take to the streets on the opposition’s call because they had seen corruption of the previous rulers, who were now in the opposition.

Besides PTI legislators, the meeting was also attended by the allies of the ruling party and discussed the strategy to get the budget passed from the National Assembly amid the opposition’s protest and criticism.

A participant said Prime Minister Khan asked the legislators to urged people in their constituencies to take maximum benefit of the tax amnesty scheme by declaring their hidden assets.

He hoped that a large number of people would declare their assets in the last six days of the scheme which would expire on June 30.


Prime Minister Khan held separate meetings with some members of the National Assembly at his Parliament House chamber, adds APP.

The MNAs who called on the PM included Shaheen Saifullah, Talib Hussain Nakai, Saleh Mohammad Khan, Aurangzeb Khichi, Niaz Ahmed Jhakar, Haji Imtiaz Ahmed, Umer Aslam Khan, Nawab Sher Waseer, Khurram Shehzad, Farrukh Habib, Faizullah and Raja Riaz Ahmed.

Special Assistant to the PM on Political Affairs Naeemul Haq was present at the meetings.

A delegation of the Balochistan Awami Party also called on Prime Minister Imran Khan. The delegation included federal Minister for Defence Production Zubaida Jalal and MNAs Mohammad Israr Tareen, Khalid Hussain Magsi, Ehsanullah Reki and Robina Irfan, the PM office said in a press release.

Full report at:



PML-N to launch anti-govt drive soon: Baloch

Saleem Shahid

June 26, 2019

QUETTA: President of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Balochistan, retired Gen Abdul Qadir Baloch has criticised the federal government for increasing gas and electricity tariffs and resultant price-hike.

Presiding over a meeting of his party here on Tuesday, he said that Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) chairman Imran Khan had deceived people by making fake promises.

He said since the PTI came to power the rate of inflation had hit its peak, affecting the purchasing power of people who were facing skyrocketing prices with the passage of every day.

Mr Baloch said his party had decided to launch an anti-government campaign very soon in Balochistan with the support of all opposition parties.

He said the federal government could not survive in the current situation because the poor masses were unable to feed their children twice a day due to its wrong policies.

The PML-N leader said it was the democratic right of people to make the prime minister and his cabinet accountable.

Talking about the government’s amnesty scheme, Mr Baloch accused the prime minister of giving amnesty to his corrupt ministers, friends and close relatives. He said when the PML-N government had announced the amnesty scheme, the PTI and its leadership opposed it.

“The present government will prove to be a big disaster for the nation because our enemies have been mocking on country’s dwindling economy while in the past 10 months the prime minister has not taken any action against corrupt mafia sitting in his cabinet,” he said.

Full report at:



'Strict action' to be taken against PTI leader who 'beat up' journalist: PM's assistant

Rana Bilal | Naeem Sahoutara

June 26, 2019

The Karachi and Lahore press clubs have placed a temporary ban on the entry of Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) leaders in their premises following the alleged assault of a journalist at the hands of a local leader of the ruling party, it emerged on Wednesday.

A video had gone viral over the weekend of Masroor Ali Sial, a leader of PTI Sindh, entering into an argument with Karachi Press Club (KPC) President Imtiaz Khan Faran during the taping of a talk show at a private TV channel.

Sial, who was seated next to Faran, is then seen standing up and shoving the KPC president off his seat and later hitting him. The scuffle is stopped with the intervention of the channel's management.

Prime Minister's Special Assistant on Political Affairs Naeemul Haque in an early Wednesday tweet condemned the "violent reaction" of Sial, saying "This kind of behaviour is unacceptable in PTI and is totally unworthy of a PTI Leader." He announced that "strict disciplinary action" will be taken against Masroor.

The governing body of the KPC strongly condemned and expressed concern over the incident at an emergency meeting held at the press club on Tuesday. Members of the body wore black bands in protest against the alleged "violence" carried out by the PTI leader.

"The meeting felt that the series of incidents of organised violence against journalists and journalist bodies on part of the PTI proves that all of this is being done according to a well thought out policy," a KPC press release said.

The meeting decided to ban the entry of all PTI office-bearers in the KPC for three days. According to the handout, if the ruling party during these three days does not revoke the membership of Sial and fails to apologise to Faran, the KPC will announce a strategy for protest against the PTI in consultation with other journalist bodies.

The KPC governing body urged press clubs across the country to bar the entry of PTI leaders for three days in solidarity with the KPC president. The meeting also temporarily banned the entry in KPC of the host of the talk show during which the incident took place.

Following the KPC meeting, the Lahore Press Club (LPC) via a statement announced that its governing body too was banning the entry of the PTI leadership at its premises for three days on KPC's call. The office-bearers of the ruling party would not be allowed at other press clubs of Punjab as well, the statement added.

Full report at:



US-Iran tensions a threat to regional peace, says Qureshi

Jun 26, 2019

BRUSSELS: Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi on Tuesday warned that escalation of tensions between Iran and the United States is a serious threat to the regional peace.

While addressing the Political and Security Committee of the European Union in Brussels, he said that Pakistan has concerns over the new developments and how relations between both countries are becoming sour with the passage of each day.

“Sending US combat warship carrying fighter jets to the Persian Gulf pose a serious threat to peace,” Qureshi said.

He further said that an unstable Iran can derail the peace in this region and Pakistan being the neighbour would suffer the most. This will also affect the Afghan Peace Process, he added.

Full report at:



Pakistan envoy lauds recent round of US, Taliban talks

Muna Habib

JUNE 26, 2019

The Pakistani ambassador to the US lauded efforts of the new round of peace talks between the Taliban and the United States, on Monday, a day after both sides resumed negotiations in Pakistan.

Speaking at an event at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, a think tank in Washington DC, Ambassador Asad Majeed Khan said: “If you had asked me this question 6 months or 8 months ago, frankly, I could never have actually guessed that there will be a day where the US and the Taliban will spend 16 days in a room talking about peace.”

“Pakistan is making a serious and sincere effort to support the peace process in Afghanistan,” he said.

He highlighted the “shared responsibility” as peace talks resumed in Pakistan over the weekend. “This is not just for us, it is a shared responsibility with other countries in the region,” Khan said. “During the peace process, Pakistan will not allow militants to use Pakistan’s territory to launch attacks or try to use territory in Afghanistan against Pakistan. The country does not want to bring the Afghan war into Pakistan,” he said.

His comments come after Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghanistan reconciliation, announced Sunday, the seventh round of talks between the Taliban and the US would take place on Saturday, June 29 in Qatar.”I believe all sides want rapid progress,” Khalilzad tweeted. Also with the arrival of dozens of Afghan negotiators and senior Pakistani officials over the weekend in Bhurban, Pakistan, who gathered to negotiate how peace can be achieved in the war-torn country.

Since October 2018, negotiators from the US and the Taliban have been striving to reach a peace agreement to end the nearly 18-year-long Afghanistan conflict -what has now become the longest war in US history.

However, it is only more recently that progress towards peace negotiations has been made. A draft agreement was reached in March on the withdrawal of US and NATO troops in exchange for the Taliban agreeing to relinquish ties with terrorist organizations like al Qaeda.

Talks have been turbulent since 2015, when Pakistan organised the first historic round of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban. However, the negotiations broke down after the Taliban announced the death of their long-time leader Mullah Omar, which instigated a power struggle within the group.

Then following the death of Omar’s successor, Mullah Mansur, in a 2016 US drone strike on Pakistan’s side near the Afghan border, any hopes of resuming the impeded peace process slimmed further.

Since taking the US helm in September last year, Khalilzad has held around six rounds of talks with the Taliban. But the Taliban have continued to resist talks for the peace process – insisting their demands for a ceasefire in Afghanistan are met. With Washington in recent months ramping up efforts, including direct talks with the Taliban — in a push to bring an end to the conflict in Afghanistan — despite harsh criticism from the Afghan government.

The Taliban has thus far refused to negotiate with the Afghan government in Kabul, calling President Ashraf Ghani’s administration a “puppet” of the US, with none of its members attending a conference hosted by the Pakistan government on Saturday that brought dozens of Afghan political leaders together.

On Monday Khan urged both sides to come together.

Full report at:



South Asia


U.S., Taliban aim to firm up date for foreign force exit from Afghanistan

JUNE 24, 2019

KABUL (Reuters) - Upcoming peace talks between the United States and the Taliban will focus on working out a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S.-led troops from Afghanistan and on a Taliban guarantee militants won’t plot attacks from Afghan soil, sources said on Monday.

A seventh round of talks between the warring sides begins on Saturday in Qatar’s capital of Doha, where U.S. and Taliban negotiators have been trying to hammer out a deal to end to the 18-year-long war since October.

“Once the timetable for foreign force withdrawal is announced, then talks will automatically enter the next stage,” said Sohail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Doha.

“We don’t need to wait for the completion of the withdrawal, both withdrawal and talks can move forward simultaneously.”

The focus of the talks has been a Taliban demand for the withdrawal of U.S. and other foreign forces and a U.S. demand the Taliban guarantee that Afghanistan will not be used as a base for militant attacks.

Two other main issues in the process are a ceasefire and talks between the rival Afghan sides - the insurgents and the Western-backed government.

But the Taliban have long refused to talk to the Afghan government, denouncing it as foreign “puppet”, and fighting has seen no let-up.

Two other sources with knowledge of the talks said the sixth round in May ended with unease on both sides, but since then informal meeting had taken place to work out what can be agreed on.

The U.S. special envoy for peace in Afghanistan, Zalmay Khalilzad, has also held informal meetings with the Taliban leadership in Doha.

“Based on my recent visits to Afghanistan and Qatar, I believe all sides want rapid progress,” Khalilzad said on Twitter.

Khalilzad, an Afghan-born American diplomat has been leading the talks to secure a political settlement with the hardline Islamist group that now controls more Afghan territory than at any time since being toppled in 2001 by U.S.-led forces.

About 20,000 foreign troops, most of them American, are in Afghanistan as part of a U.S.-led NATO mission to train, assist and advise Afghan forces. Some U.S. forces carry out counter-terrorism operations.

At least 3,804 civilians were killed in the war last year, according to the United Nations. Thousands of Afghan soldiers, police and Taliban were also killed.

Nevertheless, the Taliban leader vowed this month to sustain the fight until their objectives were reached.

In March, a draft agreement was reached on the withdrawal of foreign forces in exchange for a commitment by the Taliban to cut ties with militant groups such as al Qaeda.

A Taliban source said both sides were expecting some clarity and results on the prime issues in the new round talks.

“A ceasefire and intra-Afghan talks will not be discussed during the seventh round,” said the Taliban source, who declined to be identified.

Some Afghan government officials side fear the United States and the Taliban will strike a deal on the withdrawal of foreign forces, enabling the United States to get out of an unpopular war but leaving government forces to battle on alone.



Sri Lanka police overturn local council ban on Muslims

Jun 25, 2019

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka's police Tuesday stepped in to prevent a local council from banning Muslim traders from a weekly fair in another backlash from the devastating Easter attacks blamed on Islamic extremists.

The local government body had ordered minority Muslims not to participate in the farmer's market in the town of Dankotuwa, 47 kilometres (30 miles) north of the capital.

"We got a court order against the Wennappuwa Pradeshiya Saba (council) because we can't allow this Islamophobia," local police Superintendent K.

A. B. Kumarapeli told AFP by telephone.

He said the local council chairman representing a political party affiliated to former president Mahinda Rajapakse ordered Muslims to stay away, saying their presence could trigger violence in the region.

The region has a high concentration of Christians who suffered the most in the April 21 suicide bombings that targeted three churches and three hotels. At least 258 people were killed and nearly 500 wounded in the attacks.

However, police said there was no basis for Tuesday's action by the council when communal tensions had eased and the region was returning to normality after several days of anti-Muslim riots last month.

"We have asked courts to take action against the council chairman for causing tension between communities," Kumarapeli said adding that a hearing has been scheduled for Friday.

Sri Lanka has been under a state of emergency since the Easter Sunday suicide bombings blamed on a local jihadi group which pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group.

Full report at:



Public uprising militiaman defects to Taliban after killing his 6 comrades

26 Jun 2019

A public uprising militiaman killed his six comrades in latest insider attack in Jawzjan province.

The local security officials said Tuesday that the militiaman killed his comrades in Qosh Tapa district.

A senior provincial security official said Tuesday that the militiaman killed his comrades in a security check post late on Monday night.

The official also confirmed that the militiaman defected to Taliban after killing his comrades.

Meanwhile, the official said the militiaman also wounded two other public uprising militiamen in the attack.

The security situation in some Jawzjan province has deteriorated during the recent months.

Full report at:



Bangladesh police kill three suspected Rohingya traffickers; rescue 15 refugees

June 25, 2019

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Bangladesh police killed three people suspected of trying to smuggle 15 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Malaysia in a clash on Tuesday near the South Asian nation’s main refugee camp, an official said, the second such incident in as many months.

Nearly 900,000 Rohingya who fled a military-led crackdown in neighboring Buddhist-dominated Myanmar in 2017 live in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp, and other temporary settlements in Bangladesh’s beach town of Cox’s Bazar.

“On sensing the presence of our team, they fired on police, and police also responded,” said Prodip Kumar Das, a police official in the nearby town of Teknaf.

The men attempting to smuggle the refugees, who included some girls, were shot and died on the way to hospital, Das added. The refugees were rescued and sent to two different camps after initial questioning.

The clash, around 30 km from Kutupalong, followed a tip-off to police, Das told Reuters, adding that they had retrieved three locally-made guns and 15 rounds of ammunition.

The men were themselves Rohingya known to be human traffickers living in the area since their arrival in Bangladesh before 2017, he added.

Rohingya civilians who left Myanmar have said they faced atrocities at the hands of its armed forces but almost all such accusations have been denied by the authorities.

With doubts over whether they will ever return to Myanmar, some refugees in Bangladesh are being drawn toward drugs and violence, say people in the area and aid workers.

The risks of being trafficked have increased as refugees are lured by the promise of work. Anti-trafficking groups fear that routes through the Bay of Bengal are being used to smuggle out Rohingya refugees.

Full report at:



Bangladesh police kill three suspected Rohingya traffickers; rescue 15 refugees

June 25, 2019

COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh: Bangladesh police killed three people suspected of trying to smuggle 15 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Malaysia in a clash on Tuesday near the South Asian nation’s main refugee camp, an official said, the second such incident in as many months.

Nearly 900,000 Rohingya who fled a military-led crackdown in neighboring Buddhist-dominated Myanmar in 2017 live in Kutupalong, the world’s largest refugee camp, and other temporary settlements in Bangladesh’s beach town of Cox’s Bazar.

“On sensing the presence of our team, they fired on police, and police also responded,” said Prodip Kumar Das, a police official in the nearby town of Teknaf.

The men attempting to smuggle the refugees, who included some girls, were shot and died on the way to hospital, Das added. The refugees were rescued and sent to two different camps after initial questioning.

The clash, around 30 km from Kutupalong, followed a tip-off to police, Das told Reuters, adding that they had retrieved three locally-made guns and 15 rounds of ammunition.

The men were themselves Rohingya known to be human traffickers living in the area since their arrival in Bangladesh before 2017, he added.

Rohingya civilians who left Myanmar have said they faced atrocities at the hands of its armed forces but almost all such accusations have been denied by the authorities.

With doubts over whether they will ever return to Myanmar, some refugees in Bangladesh are being drawn toward drugs and violence, say people in the area and aid workers.

The risks of being trafficked have increased as refugees are lured by the promise of work. Anti-trafficking groups fear that routes through the Bay of Bengal are being used to smuggle out Rohingya refugees.

Full report at:



‘US hoping for Afghan peace pact before Sept 1’

JUNE 26, 2019

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said that Washington is hopeful a peace agreement to bring an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan can be reached before September 1, Washington Post reported.

Pompeo, in a brief visit to Afghanistan, spoke just days before the start of a fresh round of talks between Washington’s peace envoy, Zalmay Khalilzad, and the Taliban in the Middle Eastern State of Qatar, where the militia maintains a political office.

So far, the Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government and Afghan-to-Afghan talks planned for earlier this year in Doha were scuttled after both sides disagreed over participants.

“I hope we have a peace deal before September 1, that’s certainly our mission set,” Pompeo told reporters in Kabul. He stopped in the Afghan capital on his way to Delhi on a tour of the Middle East and Asia aimed at building a broad, global coalition to pressure Iran.

Khalilzad accompanied Pompeo as he met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his partner in power, Abdullah Abdullah, the country’s chief executive. He also met several opposition politicians as well as former president Hamid Karzai.

Pompeo underscored Khalilzad’s strategy in the talks, which involves four interconnected issues: counterterrorism, foreign troop presence, inter-Afghan dialogue and a permanent ceasefire.

In what has become America’s longest war, US troops invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 following the September 11 attacks. Since then, America has lost more than 2,400 soldiers and spent more than $800 billion. The US and NATO formally concluded their combat mission in 2014, but American and allied troops remain, conducting strikes on the Islamic State group and the Taliban and working to train and build the Afghan military. Taliban insurgents, however, control nearly half of Afghanistan and are more powerful than at any time since a 2001 US-led invasion. They carry out near-daily attacks, mainly targeting security forces and government officials.

Talks between Khalilzad and the Taliban have focused on US and NATO troop withdrawal and guarantees from the Taliban that Afghanistan would not again become a safe haven for terrorists to plan global attack like the airborne assaults on the United States in 2001. Pompeo said the United States and Taliban were close to a deal on countering terrorism.

“We’ve made real progress and are nearly ready to conclude a draft text outlining the Taliban commitments to join fellow Afghans in ensuring that Afghan soil never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists,” Pompeo said. He added that discussions with the Taliban have also begun on US troop withdrawal. “While we’ve made clear to the Taliban that were prepared to remove our forces, I want to be clear we’ve not yet agreed on a timeline to do so,” Pompeo said.

Full report at:



Bangladeshi minorities call on govt to deliver election promises

June 26, 2019

Religious and ethnic minority leaders in Bangladesh have called on the ruling Awami League government to fulfill its pre-election promises by forming a special commission and making laws to ensure justice and rights for minorities.

Before the national election on Dec. 30 last year, the Awami League (AL) said in its election manifesto that a “National Minority Commission will be formed, and special laws will be enacted for the effective protection of the rights of the minority.”

Since then AL leadership have been silent on the issue, testing the patience of religious and ethnic minority leaders.

“A minority commission and special protection law are absolutely essential because existing laws of the land are failing to ensure justice and rights for minority communities,” Sajeeb Drong, an ethnic Garo Catholic and secretary of the Bangladesh Adivasi Forum, told

In the absence of a functional commission and law, which exist in neighboring India, minorities continue to face various forms of violence and injustice with impunity, he said.

Drong was speaking to at a June 23 press event in Dhaka organized by the Bangladeshi Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council, the largest minorities rights forum in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.

The council’s secretary advocate Rana Dasgupta, a Hindu, said that despite the country being a secular state constitutionally, the reality is there has been an increase in abuse and discrimination against minority communities.

The council released a report in May that showed a rise in violence against Bangladeshi minorities during the first quarter of this year. The report said there were 250 incidents including 23 murders.

There were 806 incidents of violence against minorities in 2018 including 104 forced conversions and 29 attacks on places of worship used by minorities.

In 2017, there were 1,004 cases of violence against minorities. The number was 1,471 in 2016.

Supreme Court lawyer Govinda Chnadra Pramanik believes existing laws cannot protect minorities because the political will is missing in the country.

“Even lawmakers from minority communities turn a blind eye when their own people face abuses and injustices,” said Pramanik, secretary of the Bangladesh National Hindu Grand Alliance.

Pramanik said that along with a commission and a law for minorities, there should be a separate fully fledged ministry overseeing all issues related to minorities.

Nearly 90 percent of Bangladesh’s 160 million people profess to be adherents of Sunni Islam. Hindus make up about 8 percent and the rest belong to other faiths including Buddhism and Christianity.

Full report at:



Bangladesh police kill three suspected Rohingya traffickers; rescue 15 refugees

Jun 25, 2019

COX'S BAZAR: Bangladesh police killed three people suspected of trying to smuggle 15 Rohingya Muslim refugees to Malaysia in a clash on Tuesday near the South Asian nation's main refugee camp, an official said, the second such incident in as many months.

Nearly 900,000 Rohingya who fled a military-led crackdown in neighbouring Buddhist-dominated Myanmar in 2017 live in Kutupalong, the world's largest refugee camp, and other temporary settlements in Bangladesh's beach town of Cox's Bazar.

"On sensing the presence of our team, they fired on police, and police also responded," said Prodip Kumar Das, a police official in the nearby town of Teknaf.

The men attempting to smuggle the refugees, who included some girls, were shot and died on the way to hospital, Das added.

The refugees were rescued and sent to two different camps after initial questioning.

The clash, around 30 km (19 miles) from Kutupalong, followed a tip-off to police, Das told Reuters, adding that they had retrieved three locally-made guns and 15 rounds of ammunition.

The men were themselves Rohingya known to be human traffickers living in the area since their arrival in Bangladesh before 2017, he added.

Rohingya civilians who left Myanmar have said they faced atrocities at the hands of its armed forces but almost all such accusations have been denied by the authorities.

With doubts over whether they will ever return to Myanmar, some refugees in Bangladesh are being drawn towards drugs and violence, say people in the area and aid workers.

The risks of being trafficked have increased as refugees are lured by the promise of work. Anti-trafficking groups fear that routes through the Bay of Bengal are being used to smuggle out Rohingya refugees.

Full report at:



Afghan Special Forces kill Taliban attack coordinator in Bagram

25 Jun 2019

The Afghan Special Forces killed a Taliban attack coordinator during an operation in Parwan.

The military officials said Tuesday that the Special Forces conducted the operation in Bagram district on Monday.

The officials further added that “The Taliban militant, who went by the name Shafiq, was responsible for the coordination of attacks on ANDSF forces.”

The military officials also added that “The Taliban do not represent the will of Afghan people – The Taliban speak of peace but their actions prove they have chosen violence.”

Full report at:



Afghan Air Force conducted 20 airstrikes in past 24 hours: MoD

26 Jun 2019

The Afghan Air Force conducted 20 airstrikes in support of the Afghan armed forces.

The Ministry of Defense (MoD) said Tuesday that the airstrikes were carried out in the past 24 hours.

The defense ministry in a statement said the air force conducted the airsrikes to support the ground forces during the ongoing counter-terrorism operations.

The statement further added the security forces conducted the latest operations in Uruzgan, Helmand, Zabul, Faryab, Kandahar, Parwan, Ghazni, Kunar, Herat, Balkh, Sar-e-Pul, Badakhshan and Takhar provinces.

The defense ministry also added that the security forces killed 50 Taliban militants during the operations.

Full report at:



Karzai, Ghani and Abdullah met Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Kabul

25 Jun 2019

The former President Hamid Karzai met with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Kabul earlier today.

The Office of the Former President in a statement said the ex-President Hamid Karzai, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah met with the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Dilgosha Palace of ARG Presidential Palace.

The statement further added that former President emphasized on the importance of peace process, calling it a vital need of the Afghan nation.

The former President also endorsed the ongoing U.S. efforts regarding peace process in Afghanistan, the statement added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Karzai emphasized on the need to halt violence and war against the Afghans and insisted that efforts for peace process must be expedited.

Full report at:



Southeast Asia


Malaysian police chief warns of suicide attacks if ISIS members are back

June 24, 2019

A top Malaysian police officer warns of suicide attacks as Isis fighters return home, saying those coming from Syria and Iraq could attempt to spread the word through social media.

Inspector-general of police Abdul Hamid Bador, in an interview with South China Morning Post says Malaysian returnees from Syria and Iraq are frustrated with their failure to achieve martyrdom with the collapse of the Islamic State’s caliphate and could attempt to continue their holy mission in their homeland by staging suicide attacks.

Here is the link where the article is accessible for now:

Bador says there has been a lot of hype that these returnees are frustrated fighters.

“They have not been able to implement all their ideals, practise what they have been trained for … so they want to do this [holy mission] back home to release their frustration.”

The paper says more than two dozen Malaysians are holed up in refugee camps in northern Syria after the fall of Isis in March.

According to Bador, all these possibilities are there when they return, based on the experience of countries who have dealt with returnees,, assuring, “We will cover all these angles. We will deal with it cautiously.”

He blamed tech giants for failing to identify and remove extremist messages swiftly claiming this has allowed impressionable young people to easily access harmful material, which ended up radicalising them.

In an article on the ISIS returnees, The Independent wrote the threats of extremism among Malaysian ISIL returnees will be far from over.

The Independent reported that recent terrorism crimes by ISIL returnees in Indonesia are a vivid reminder of what we are dealing with.

In a mid-March incident, a woman, who’s husband had been arrested by the Special Forces counterterrorism squad, became a suicide bomber. The bomb she unleashed took the life of her toddler and rocked 155 houses in Sibolga, North Sumatra, causing 166 families to be homeless.

In May 2018, a family of six who carried out three church bombings in Indonesia had returned from Syria, Indonesian police say.

Bador says Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and Google are platforms commonly exploited by Isis and radical groups to disseminate their propaganda and these platforms were used to radicalise many of the Malaysians now in refugee camps.

He says once exposed to this highly inflammatory, extreme literature on religion, quoting the Quran out of context, they will set up their own chat group to spread the word and set up a cell.

There are fears Malaysia’s arrest of three Islamic State terror suspects recently and a spate of kidnapping in by suspected Abu Sayyaf-linked gunmen raises the spectre of suicide attacks in Malaysia with the return of the ISIS members.

In March, Al Jazeera says a total of 102 Malaysians travelled to Syria and Iraq to join Isis from 2013, and 40 were killed in combat. Nine died as suicide bombers, according to police.

From 2013 until February 2019, Malaysian police foiled 24 terrorist plots. They also arrested 457 suspected militants, including 131 from 21 countries. The largest group of foreign terror suspects came from the Philippines, totalling 47, SCMP says.

Bador was fired by ex-PM Najib Razak as intelligence official after criticising the government’s handling of the scandal-hit 1MDB fund.

Bador, who spent 15 years in counterterrorism operations in Malaysia and Southeast Asia, was recently appointed as Malaysia’s police chief for a two-year term in May after serving as the director of Special Branch, the intelligence arm of the Royal Malaysian Police or PDRM.

He is a crucial element in Dr Mahathir’s hunt for 1MDB suspects and is said to be a man given a mission by the PM, that is to hunt for corrupt officials every where.



Malaysia calls for 'justice' and citizenship for Rohingya Muslims

22nd June 2019

BANGKOK: Malaysia on Saturday said the perpetrators of violence against Myanmar's Rohingya minority must "be brought to justice", in sharp comments delivered at a normally tame regional summit.

Myanmar does not recognise the Rohingya as citizens, instead officially labelling them "Bengalis", short-hand for illegal immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

A military crackdown in 2017 drove more than 740,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh, carrying accounts of rape, mass killings and the razing of villages.

UN investigators have called for Myanmar's top generals to be tried for genocide.

But Myanmar's army and de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi have defended the action as necessary to flush out Rohingya militants from Rakhine state.

In talks Saturday with Southeast Asian counterparts, Malaysia's Foreign Minister Saifuddin Bin Abdullah called for the "perpetrators of the Rohingya issue to be brought to justice", his ministry said in Tweet.

He also said repatriation of the minority from the fetid, overcrowded refugee camps of Bangladesh "must include the citizenship of the Rohingya."

Malaysia, a Muslim country which hosts a large Rohingya refugee population, is one of the few members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to speak up for the minority.

The 10-member bloc normally abides by a principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs.

ASEAN was heavily criticised by rights groups after a report it commissioned lauded Myanmar's work on the repatriation issue.

Rakhine state, the western region home to the Rohingya, remains cut by violence.

Only a handful of the Muslim minority have returned under a discredited repatriation deal.

Full report at:



Indonesia's silence on Uighur debate 'complicated': IPAC report

June 25, 2019

In vying for a seat on the United Nations Human Rights Council next year, Indonesia may face pressure to more directly address allegations of abuse against the Uighur Muslim minority in China after much silence on the government’s part, a research note suggests. The Xinjiang autonomous region and its resident Uighur population have been in the spotlight over the past year following reports by rights groups detailing China’s abuse of at least 1 million people from the ethnic minority. They have reportedly been forced to undergo psychological indoctrination programs in camps that Beijing has labeled as “re-education centers”. At a UNHRC meeting last year, Beijing dismissed the allegations as baseless criticism. As the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, Indonesia’s support for oppressed Muslim minorities -- such as Palestinians and the Rohingy...





Sudan protesters dispute generals’ take on transition plans

June 26, 2019

KHARTOUM: Sudanese protest leaders said Monday that an Ethiopia-drafted proposal for the country’s political transition was already “unified” with an African Union plan, dismissing calls by ruling generals for a joint blueprint.

Ethiopia and the African Union have stepped up diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis in Sudan, which has been wracked by tensions between the protest leaders and generals since a deadly dispersal of a sit-in earlier this month.

On Sunday, the generals, who seized power after deposing President Omar Bashir in April, said mediators from the AU and Ethiopia had offered “different” proposals for the political transition, and called for them to unify their efforts.

But the protest movement contested that position on Monday.

“The initiatives (by the AU and Ethiopia) were unified a while ago and were presented (as one) to all parties at the same time,” said protest leader Ismail Al-Taj at a press conference on Monday.

“The Ethiopian and African envoys met on Sunday with the Alliance for Freedom and Change to discuss this unified initiative,” said Taj, referring to the umbrella protest movement that spearheaded the anti-Bashir campaign and is now at loggerheads with the generals.

The alliance has already accepted the proposal presented to them by an Ethiopian envoy, which entails creating a 15-member civilian-majority governing body during a three-year transition period.

The Ethiopian blueprint, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, suggests the ruling body be made up of eight civilians and seven members of the military.

The proposal also suggests that the ruling military council chairs the first 18 months of the governing body, and the remaining 18 months would be headed by a representative from the protest movement.

The blueprint further says that a transitional parliament of 300 lawmakers would take 67 percent of its lawmakers from the Alliance for Freedom and Change.

The remaining 33 percent would be from other political groups, excluding Bashir’s now defunct National Congress Party.

The AU, which has consistently supported the protesters and urged the ruling military council to ensure a smooth transition, suspended Sudan soon after the violent dispersal of a protest camp outside army headquarters in Khartoum on June 3.

The protest leaders and generals had previously agreed on a transitional period of three years and that 67 percent of the lawmakers would be from the protest movement.

But tensions between the two sides surged as a result of the deadly break up of the protest camp.

The violent dispersal of the weeks-long rally came after the two sides failed during previous talks to agree on the composition of the new ruling body and who should lead it — a civilian or a soldier.

Medics linked to the protest movement say the crackdown on demonstrators since June 3 has killed at least 128 people, the majority of them on the day of the dispersal.

The Health Ministry says the death toll stands at 61 nationwide.

The generals deny they ordered the dispersal, insisting they had authorized only a limited operation to clear a nearby area of drug dealers.



Libya’s liberal alliance proposes ceasefire in Tripoli

Mahmoud Barakat  



Libya's National Forces Alliance (NFA) on Tuesday announced an initiative to end fighting in the outskirts of capital Tripoli.

On April 4, military leader Khalifa Haftar, who is backing a rival government in eastern Libya, had launched a campaign to capture Tripoli.

After weeks of fighting in the city outskirts, Haftar's campaign failed to achieve its objective. But the forces remain deployed in several areas around the capital.

The NFA, which is an alliance of 58 liberal political parties and several NGOs, has proposed cessation of hostilities and setting up of humanitarian corridors around the capital, to pave way for a political dialogue.

The initiative also calls on Haftar forces to create a buffer zone and to allow stranded families to move out of the areas of fighting.

Libya is under turmoil since 2011, when its long-time leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in a bloody NATO-backed uprising, after four decades in power.

Full report at:



Al-Shabaab waning as Kenya takes fight to their home bases

JUNE 25 2019

The ragtag Somalia-based Al-Shabaab militia remains a security threat, with active cells in Kenya’s northeastern counties although its capacity to stage regular attacks has been diminished, the Nation can reveal.

The organisation has in the past few weeks focused on targets in the border regions of Mandera, Wajir and Garissa where it has killed police officers and soldiers with home-made bombs.

The militants’ areas of operation include Sheikh Barrow, Arabia, Fino, Damasa in Lafey, Alungo, Warankara, Falama, Elrhamu and Garsesala in Mandera County.


And in Wajir County they are active in Kotulo, Mansa, Boji, Diif, Konton and Khorof Harar. In Garissa, areas prone to terror attacks include Liboi, Kulan, Hulugho, Bodhai, Boni forest, Galmagala, Amuma and Hamey.

The Yumbis Border Patrol base in Garissa was the latest to be attacked, last Friday. Police, with the help of special forces, killed three of the attackers and repulsed the terrorists.

“Security agencies remain on high alert to suppress and counter Al-Shabaab’s heightened activity along our common border with Somalia,” said National Police Service Director of Communication Charles Wahong’o in a statement.

A security alert seen by the Nation had warned of impending attacks in parts of Mandera and Wajir towns.

In a separate incident on the same day, an unidentified man was shot dead after he attempted to snatch a rifle from a soldier keeping guard at the Wajir army base. No documents were found on him.


“That is not a problem in Wajir alone but along the entire border from Mandera down to Lamu, but we are very much aware and doing what is expected of us,” said Wajir County Police Commander Stephen Ngetich.

A senior security officer said Al-Shabaab could be retreating due to heightened operations in their perceived territories.

The African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom), a UN-endorsed force of 22,000 soldiers, has succeeded in restricting Al-Shabaab’s operations in Somalia, forcing them to change tack and use local cells instead of crossing borders to stage attacks.

Amisom troops-contributing countries — Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and Ethiopia — are said to be vulnerable to Al-Shabaab attacks.

Recently, suspected Al-Shabaab militants abducted Cuban doctors Assel Herera Correa and Landy Rodriguez, who were working in Mandera.

The two are yet to be found, with the government only indicating that everything will be done to secure their freedom.


The Nation has also learnt that clan rivalry, politics and infighting within Al-Shabaab in Somalia are fuelling unrest, tension and attacks in the northeastern region.

The conflict, pitting the Marehan against other clans based in Somalia and along the Kenyan border, has led to an increase in Al-Shabaab activities in the area. The conflict has played out specifically in the Gedo region in Somalia.

Further, there has been a rise in the number of kidnappings of herders in the northeastern region in a bid to arm-twist the other clans into submission in an ongoing supremacy battle.

“The militant group has capitalised on clan dynamics and the porosity of the border to run numerous illegal businesses dealing in contraband goods, trade in weapons and human smuggling. The Kenyan government is continuing its plan to build the border wall and Al-Shabaab has seen this as putting an end to their business,” a source said.

Confidential government dispatches reported that on June 19, at least 18 Al-Shabaab militants were reported hiding between Bojigarsa and Mansa in Wajir County with the intention of attacking security postings in Kutulo, Mansa and Bojigarsa.


Their main target was said to be National Police Reservists (NPR) personnel patrolling the area.

The terrorists were said to be under the leadership of Abdirashid Ibrahim Osman, from Kutulo in Wajir. Last week terrorists raided Konton centre in Wajir East, targeting NPRs.

“The NPRs fought their attackers as locals fled the town. The NPRs ran away after running out of ammunition,” a filed security report seen by the Nation shows.

Last Tuesday northeastern regional Commissioner Mohamed Birik warned locals that they will be severely punished for helping Al-Shabaab.

Full report at:



15 killed in two ‘terrorist’ attacks on Burkina villages

24 Jun 2019

Two attacks by “armed terrorists” on villages in northern Burkina Faso left 15 people dead, the country's Defence Minister Cheriff Sy said on Monday.

The gunmen attacked the villages of Sagho and Toekodogo, in the Barsalogho district, on Saturday, Sy said in a statement, describing them as members of "armed terrorist groups".

"These attacks unfortunately caused the death of 15 people, 13 of them in Sagho and two in Toekodogo," he said. The attackers also set fire to three shops and around 10 motorcycles.

Once alerted, soldiers and members of the security forces were deployed who put the assailants to flight, Sy added.

Burkina Faso has suffered from increasingly frequent and deadly attacks attributed to a number of militant groups, including the Group to Support Islam and Muslims (GSIM) and Daesh in the Greater Sahara.

More than 1,000 people have fled their homes because of the unrest in the region, finding refuge in the capital Ouagadougou, in the centre of the country.

The north of the former French colony, near the borders with Mali and Niger, has been particularly hard hit. The raids began in 2015 in the north before spreading to Ouagadougou and other regions, notably in the east.

The attacks have killed more than 460 people, according to an AFP tally.

Inter-communal violence, often aggravated by the militant violence, has added to the insecurity.

Last Tuesday, a militant attack in Belehede, in the northern province of Soum, claimed 17 lives.

Full report at:



Nigeria: Depressed Soldiers Drugged in Fight Against Boko Haram

24 JUNE 2019

By Emeka Okonkwo

Abuja — SOME soldiers battling the Boko Haram terrorist northeast of Nigeria are reportedly suffering mental illness in silence and using drugs to cope with pressures of fighting the militants.

A retired officer has made the revelations at a workshop in the capital Abuja.

Brigadier General Gbenga Okulate said this problem presented a ticking time bomb for Nigeria when the war against the Boko Haram was eventually won.

"It has been noted soldiers are relying on drugs for agility, competence and boldness during battle," Okulate, now a mental and psychological expert, said.

He highlighted rumours that some army commanders gave soldiers drugs before they faced the Boko Haram.

"We are going to have a serious mental issue after the war like we had after the civil war where hospitals were filled with psychiatric patients," Okulate warned.

It is reported Nigeria took 15 years to address the crisis, which emanated from the civil war of 1967-1970.

"There will be a repeat of the post-civil war problem Nigeria faced if nothing urgent and drastic is done to address the mental disorders of soldiers and drug use," Okulate warned.

The Nigerian Army has been battling the Islamist Boko Haram group for the past ten years.

It has been reported troops lack morale.

Last week, Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai, accused some soldiers of lacking commitment in battle.

Full report at:



Troops rescue 95 Boko Haram captives, recover four terrorist flags

June 24, 2019

Troops of Operation Lafiya Dole have rescued 95 men, women and children who were abducted by the Boko Haram terrorists in Kobe, Boboshe, Dubula and Tafana villages of Borno State, during an extended clearance operation.

The troops, attached to 112 Task Force Battalion and 22 Brigade in collaboration with members of the Civilian Joint Task Force, discovered the victims in some camps at Kobe and Boboshe villages on Saturday.

According to the army on Monday, the troops recovered four terrorists’ flags, two copies of Quran, one generator and two bicycles from the villages.

Meanwhile, in Dubula and Tafana villages, troops retrieved two boxes filled with Quran, five bicycles and assorted clothing materials.

The military said 24 of the rescued children were administered with polio vaccines by the Nigerian Army Regimental Medical Officers and officials of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency.

The villages had been previously unreached in the polio vaccination exercise.

The acting Director, Army Public Relations, Col Sagir Musa, in a release on Monday, said some of the terrorists fled the camps on sighting troops while a few others were shot dead.

Musa said, “In continuation of the ongoing clearance operation, Halaka Dodo, the troops discovered newly established camps in Dubula. The following items were recovered; two terrorists’ flags, two copies of Quran, one generator set and two bicycles. Additionally, 13 women and 26 children were rescued during the operation.

Full report at:



Daesh terror cell dismantled in Morroco

Khaled Majdoub


A terrorist cell affiliated with Daesh terrorist organization was dismantled in the suburbs of central Morocco’s city of Marrakesh, the country's Interior Ministry said Tuesday.

In a statement, the ministry said the cell was composed of four terrorists aged between 25 and 40.

Suspicious chemicals and explosive materials were also seized.

Initial investigation shows the cell was in contact with foreign elements and was plotting a "terror attack" in the Kingdom.

Late in April, Moroccan authorities dismantled another terrorist cell linked to the Daesh terrorist organization.

Full report at:




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